Reshuffle as John Brown announces Citrus merger

Brown: new company’s chairman

There is a really vibrant and creative atmosphere which will be a breath of fresh air for John Brown. The sad thing is that it shows there is increasingly less room for the small guys."

The merger has prompted a reshuffle at senior management level. John Brown will become chairman, Andrew Hirsch, currently chief executive officer of JBP, will become chief executive officer of the new company and Simon Chappell, managing director of Citrus, will head the expansion overseas as president of John Brown Inc. Dean Fitzpatrick will become managing director of the company in the UK.

Brown said if there were to be any job losses they would be kept to a minimum. "It is too early to tell if there will be any redundancies, but if there are any it is hoped they will be voluntary," he said. "Together we will be an even bigger force to be reckoned with in our industry than we were individually before. We will be hard to beat."

Citrus produces magazines for clients including BSkyB, Wella, English Heritage and Microsoft. John Brown’s clients include AA, Virgin, WH Smith, Nike and Waitrose.  Insiders say there could be a potential clash between Citrus’s title for Vodafone and John Brown’s contract with rival Orange and the retailers are expected to respond to the move in the next two weeks. Elsewhere it is thought that JBP will be able to take advantage of Citrus’s online developments while Citrus will be able to move into the US where JBP has a presence.

Citrus has won several contracts in the past four months with a total value of more than £2m and is expected to increase its business by 20 per cent this year.

One industry observer said: "Citrus has got a reputation of being the next big thing – now it won’t be because the next big thing has bought it."

While insiders say the merger will put increased pressure on Redwood, others claim it will ease the burden on medium to small-sized publishers who will have one less rival to compete against. Brown said further mergers or acquisitions were "not something we would rule out in the future".

 

By Ruth Addicott

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