City of Sydney relaunches out-of-home advertising and street furniture tender

One of the most prominent outdoor advertising contracts in the country is still up for grabs, with the City of Sydney going back to the drawing board and once again calling for expressions of interest after starting the process late last year.

The City of Sydney denied the return to EOI stage was due to the flurry of takeover bids involving the country’s largest street furniture providers – with international giant JC Decaux currently offering $1.119bn to purchase APN Outdoor and Ooh Media hoping to purchase Adshel for $570m – instead suggesting this 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 street furniture and advertising in the Sydney CBD, which will be removed, regardless of who wins the contract

JC Decaux won the contract in 1998 ahead of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, but the City of Sydney said the out-of-home industry, and the expectations of consumers and residents, had rapidly evolved since then.

Regardless of who wins the tender, existing street furniture items will be progressively removed and replaced with new assets from 2019.

The new contract will include more than 2,500 pieces of street furniture, spanning bus shelters, kiosks, public toilets, seats, litter bins and communications panels, as well as free public Wi-Fi.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said returning to the EOI stage of the process was an opportunity for the right service provider to help define the future of Sydney’s street furniture and digital signage.

“Our street furniture and outdoor advertising contract is one of the largest of its kind in Australia.

“We need to find the right service provider to give our residents, workers and visitors the free Wi-Fi connection and smart, well-designed street furniture a global city deserves,” she said.

“[The new street furniture] will bring new technology to our streets, deliver free internet to our devices and enable smart city platforms, changing the way our residents, workers and visitors interact with our city.”

Mumbrella understands whilst the City of Sydney was satisfied with the number and calibre of companies who submitted their interest in the first round, it is open to more providers throwing their hats in the ring.

“We’ve refined our contractual requirements following the first expressions of interest process which began in late 2017,” Moore continued.

“This is because interested providers told us the market needed more time to respond to the complex nature of the contract and work on solutions to give residents, workers and visitors the best possible outcome.

“Outdoor advertising has experienced enormous growth over recent years, as digital advertising has become more popular and offers greater opportunities.”

The contract, Moore noted, isn’t just about the immediate future.

Mumbrella understands Adshel – which for now is still owned by HT&E – is very interested in the City of Sydney contract

“We’re looking for modern, sustainable and attractive street furniture that is functional and blends seamlessly with our urban environment,” she said.

“Eventually we could see real-time emergency, event and transport information displayed on bus shelters.

“We want to make sure no-one is left behind in this shift to a digital future, so we’re [looking to] local and international providers with new ideas to deliver us fast and free public Wi-Fi and the best possible smart furniture.”

JC Decaux is intent on securing the business again, previously telling Mumbrella the company would not embark down the acquisition trail until it had won the contract.

In November last year – before bidding for its main rival in the street furniture business Adshel ramped up, and it signalled its own intentions to purchase APN Outdoor – JC Decaux’s local boss Steve O’Connor said: “We have to win Sydney – number one. And we have to bed down these contracts we’ve just won. For the foreseeable future, our focus is going to be on what we’ve got – which is very significant.”

The company had also previously suggested the City of Sydney would be smart  to maintain its existing street furniture assets, rather than rebuild them from scratch.

“Back 20 years ago, it was a complete new build including news stands, flower stalls,” chairman and co-CEO Jean-Francois Decaux told Mumbrella last year before the tender officially launched.

“We don’t know yet whether the City of Sydney will ask for a complete rebuild, because the street furniture looks as good as it did 20 years ago. It’s part of the cityscape, and the city will have to make a decision of do they want more money, in which case keeping the furniture in place would be the best option because we could give them more money, rather than changing everything that doesn’t need to be changed.

“But whoever gets the contract will have to invest a significant amount of money and therefore will not be in a position to maximise money- cash – for the city. I think it will be in the best interests of the city to ask for both options so that at the end of the day, the elected officials can make the decision.”

A number of significant contracts in the outdoor space have changed hands recently, with JC Decaux winning Yarra Trams under a consolidated contract which included both shelters and the trams themselves. Previously, the contract had been split between Adshel and APN Outdoor.

Adshel then won the Metro Trains Melbourne outdoor contract, which spans 15 rail lines and 218 stations and lasts for seven years.

APN Outdoor was re-appointed as preferred partner for the train’s track and roadside assets.

APN Outdoor also locked in a further five-year contract with Sydney Buses, retained its Adelaide metro contract and renewed its Tullamarine Freeway contract.

Canberra Airport however, ditched APN Outdoor in favour of QMS.

The City of Sydney’s renewed EOI opens tomorrow, Tuesday 10 July.


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