City of Sydney gives outdoor contract to QMS

The City of Sydney’s street furniture and outdoor advertising contract has officially been awarded to QMS.

The appointment comes after drawn out negotiations and various roadblocks to the council’s plans.

The City of Sydney finally has a new outdoor partner

The largest out-of-home advertising contract in the country opened up expressions of interest (EOI) way back in 2017 after 20 years with international giant JC Decaux. The contract with JC Decaux was due to expire in 2018.

In July 2018, however, the City of Sydney went back to the drawing board and relaunched the EOI. At the time, the outdoor sector in Australia had been through a period of dramatic change with international giant JC Decaux offering $1.119bn to purchase APN Outdoor and Ooh Media gearing up to purchase Adshel for $570m.

The Council denied the flurry of acquisition activity was the motivation behind relaunching the EOI, however, saying the second stage would enable those pitching for the business to bring a refined offering to the table and more adequately respond to the complex nature of the contract.

JC Decaux’s contract was then extended for another year to accomodate the various delays, but it was subsequently revealed the company would not be pursuing the new contract under its current conditions.

The City then looked to reject the remaining tenders and go direct to market to negotiate.

Now, two and a half years after first going to market, the contract has been awarded to QMS.

The new agreement lasts for 10 years and will incorporate the design, manufacture, installation and maintenance of what will now be a primarily digital advertising landscape throughout the city’s streets.

The new inventory rollout will occur in the second half of 2021. To accomodate the new business, QMS will need to make more than 40 new appointments.

“This is a game changer, not only for QMS, but for the broader OOH industry,” QMS group CEO Barclay Nettlefold said. “The scale of such an opportunity does not come along often.”

Nettlefold: City of Sydney is the ‘jewel in the crown’

Lord mayor Clover Moore said the renewal project would support the city’s post-COVID-19 recovery as well as refresh the city centre’s streets.

“The new suite of furniture will help modernise our streets while also providing significant revenue to the City, which will help us maintain high-quality services and public spaces for our residents, businesses and visitors,” she said.

“This deal means we will have the capability to display real-time event, transport and emergency information on modern, sustainably designed and energy-efficient street furniture.”

JC Decaux, which had re-entered the race, said it was disappointed not to retain the contract. It did, however, note how times have changed.

“The City of Sydney was JC Decaux’s foundational contract in Australia, and we have since built a tremendous business here and in New Zealand. In 1997 we partnered with the City to pioneer advertiser-funded street furniture in Australia, replacing run-down bus shelters, kiosks and benches with architecturally-designed quality infrastructure that is still relevant today – it is now part of the fabric of the City. For over 20 years, JC Decaux has cleaned, repaired and maintained this infrastructure to an extremely high standard. We are proud of this shared history between our two organisations,” Steve O’Connor, the outdoor company’s local CEO said.

“While a meaningful contract, it is not of the same calibre as the one we entered into in 1997. Irrespective of the result of the tender, JCDecaux will maintain a significant presence in the City of Sydney into the future due to its payphone contract with Telstra. The payphones populate Sydney’s most premium locations, while large swathes of bus shelters on highly trafficked city streets have been removed through the installation and operation of the light rail.”

The loss will be a blow to JC Decaux’s size and scale in Australia, however O’Connor reassured advertisers and commuters, and perhaps staff, that it remained committed to the market.

“Commuters and advertisers can rest assured that for JC Decaux it will be business as usual until at least 31 January, 2021, and possibly longer. We will continue to provide these services with total professionalism and dedication until required. Further, we will continue our long standing relationships with the many cultural institutions we support here.

“JC Decaux has big plans for the future. We’re more committed than ever to our vision: to be the unrivalled out-of-home leader in Australia and New Zealand, delivering exceptional experiences to brands, partners and our people.”


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