APCO to decamp from Indonesia by “scaling back”?

Hmmmm. Seems like Unspun‘s little birds were not that far off after all. What’s the unspin for scaling back as part of a regional restructure?

Malaysian readers may want to check out Media’s link on APCO and the Malaysian Government which gets a bit of debate here and here, although Kay Peng has yet to release my comment in his blog.

What appeared in Media today:

APCO Worldwide scales back Indonesian office in restructure

by Anita Davis    12-Aug-09, 12:56

JAKARTA – Public relations and communications consultancy APCO Worldwide has scaled back its Indonesian office as part of a regional restructure.

The agency is shifting its focus from individual markets to a regional approach that includes greater attention placed on China and India.

Sources close to the agency say APCO is considering separating its Jakarta bureau from APCO’s umbrella franchise and will instead work with the office as an affiliate agency.

APCO’s regional CEO Larry Snoddon (pictured) did not confirm or deny the news, saying executives are “in the middle of this discussion” and several scenarios related to the agency’s restructure are being considered.

PR sources in Indonesia have indicated that the agency has made a number of redundancies. While both Snoddon and Jakarta general manager John Arnold deny making any retrenchments, both said some Jakarta staff have been transferred to other markets, notably to Kuala Lumpur, where APCO will open an office. Sources suggest the office has been opened to accommodate its new Government client.

“It has been a very powerful agency in Southeast Asia,” said one former employee. “If it operates with a skeleton staff in Indonesia, APCO could fall behind two big competitors: Kiroyan Partners and Edelman.”

In response to the news, Arnold said of his staff in Indonesia: “Employees knew what was happening when it was happening” and maintained that attitudes in the office are “very positive”.

Though unable to comment specifically on the extent of the agency’s restructure in Southeast Asia, APCO confirmed that the focus of the agency is shifting, with more resources concentrated on China and India, where client budgets are more robust: “In response to clients now approaching their Asean business more regionally than locally, APCO Worldwide is reducing its on-the-ground presence in Indonesia. APCO also is transitioning from a local-market approach to a broader pan-Asean strategy,” a statement read.

“Obviously part of what we are doing is in response to client budgets, and that’s no different than any of our competitors,” said Snoddon. “There is a scaling back, and we’re taking this on a step-by-step basis and part of this is an experiment to test some new approaches. We aim still to be able to deliver a range of services and have some very big announcements to be made. This is really a question of creating a more flexible business model in both financial terms and in terms of what we can provide for clients.”

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