‘Ball’s in their court’: JC Decaux on bungled City of Sydney outdoor tender

JC Decaux, which has held the City of Sydney outdoor advertising and street furniture contract uninterrupted since 1997, has said the local government group now needs to make a move if it wants to solve its outdoor crisis.

JC Decaux was previously considered the front runner for the lucrative account before pulling out of the process due to the contract’s terms.

The City of Sydney first launched expressions of interest for its outdoor contract – which includes installing and operating outdoor advertising displays, kiosks, toilets, shelters, communications pylons, seats, bins and WiFi services – in late 2017.

The City of Sydney has extended JC Decaux’s contract as it searches for a solution

The expressions of interest stage was followed by a flurry of bidding and subsequent acquisitions in the out-of-home advertising sector, with Australia’s largest player Ooh Media eventually succeeding in purchasing HT&E’s street furniture business Adshel, and the world’s largest outdoor company, JC Decaux, purchasing APN Outdoor – at the time nearest local competitor to Ooh Media.

The City of Sydney then took the contract back to EOI stage, at the time denying the reset was due to the consolidation which had occurred in the industry. Instead, the council said it wanted to give contenders for the contract the chance to bring a more refined offering to the table, and more adequately respond to the complex nature of the contract.

JC Decaux, by now the owner of APN Outdoor, then pulled out of the process altogether.

This left only Ooh Media in the running.

Earlier this month, however, the City revealed it would take a proposal to the councillors to ditch the tender process completely, contending it was not inspiring the best outcomes. Instead, it wants to go direct to market, presumably to negotiate directly with Australia’s remaining outdoor companies.

Today, JC Decaux’s local CEO Steve O’Connor told media he couldn’t talk much about what was happening with the contract, but made one thing clear – the City of Sydney had to make the next move.

O’Connor: Let’s see what happens

“All I can say about it at the moment is the ball’s in their court,” he said. “They’ve made that decision to engage other providers, so we’re waiting to see what unfolds from this particular point.

“The next move’s theirs, so we’ll see what happens.”

O’Connor also used the opportunity to note the company’s achievements with the contract between 1997 and the present day, sharing photos to highlight how it had transformed the city, and helped to clean up its street aesthetic ahead of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

“Ever since [we got the contract], we believe that we’ve set the standard in the Australian market in terms of the advertising proposition, but also importantly in terms of the delivery of the product and the maintenance going forward to make sure that the advertisers enjoy first of all good company, but also the presentation of the advertising is maintained to the highest possible standard,” he said.

At the same time that the City of Sydney is struggling to find a home for its outdoor contract, multiple large councils across the country are clashing with the sector – particularly telco partner Telstra – on large-format advertisements on public telephones.

O’Connor would also not be drawn on this ongoing dispute.

“Obviously it’s played out in the public very publicly,” he said. “They [Telstra] have filed a resolution in the federal court to try and get a resolution on this issue. So because it is subject to court action, we can’t comment. It’s a very topical and controversial topic, but unfortunately I can’t give much insight.

“Let’s just see how it plays out.”


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