Irvine, California-based Advantage Sales & Marketing LLC and Smollan Group announced on June 12 their strategic international partnership to become the first and only global provider of outsourced sales and marketing solutions for consumer goods companies and retailers.
Advantage’s more than 40,000 associates in North America provide consumer goods suppliers and retailers with headquarter sales, business intelligence, retail merchandising, marketing and technology solutions. Smollan provides sales and marketing solutions in developing and emerging markets operating across five continents with 60,000 employees and associates.
Together, the companies say, they now form the world’s leading retail solutions company.
Since 2009 Smollan has partnered with WPP plc, described as the global leader in advertising and marketing services, which Smollan says will be a boon to its new partnership with Advantage.
WPP has billings of $76 billion and revenues of $19 billion. The company employs more than 188,000 people, including associates and investments, in 3,000-plus offices in 111 countries.
Under the terms of the international partnership, Advantage will make an investment in Smollan, and the two companies will provide seamless global services. Advantage will have primary responsibility for execution within North America; Smollan will oversee execution in Africa, the Middle East, South America, Australia, and East and South Asia. The two companies will offer a unified solution across Europe through a newly formed joint venture, Advantage Smollan.
The partnership gives the two companies the ability to provide effective international coverage to clients, many of whom themselves have a global presence.
“We have developed immense respect for the Smollan organization as we have interacted with them over the past few years to drive and challenge each other on best practices and technology enablers,” said Tanya Domier, Advantage CEO. “We are now excited to call them partners and deploy these practices and analytical and reporting platforms across our complementary markets to offer clients seamless visibility and score-carding, as well as a consultative, single point of contact with a global view of the business—essentially an efficient, one-stop shop for clients and customers worldwide.”
Added Smollan’s CEO, David Smollan, who will join the Advantage leadership team as a partner advisor, “It was clear early on that we shared not only global aspirations, but a passion for continually enhancing our services. For example, the marketing division Advantage launched to help clients connect with shoppers and drive sales has become the number one experiential and promotional marketing agency in the U.S.
“Similarly, Smollan leads the industry with advanced technology and mobility platforms that provide clients with actionable insights to the trade,” he added.
Both companies also have expertise in consolidating companies into a cohesive whole that continues to understand and cater to local market differences. Advantage rolled up 18 regional retail sales agencies to establish a North American footprint in the 1990s and, more recently, more than 15 regional foodservice agencies to form the largest national division of its kind. Smollan has a history of expanding its model across borders into complex high-growth markets such as India, China, Pakistan, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.
A unified solution for Europe
The companies’ unified solution for Europe is the new jointly-owned holding company, Advantage Smollan. They acknowledged that they are “actively pursuing like-minded acquisition partners who are culturally aligned in a quest for service excellence, thought leadership, entrepreneurial spirit, all leading to better results for clients and customers.”
They added that the effort already is well under way, as Advantage recently acquired REL Field Marketing, a leading U.K.-based field marketing company specializing in outsourced sales and marketing solutions. It is the first company to operate under the Advantage Smollan joint venture.
“The European landscape shows clear parallels to other consolidations we have led,” Domier said. “We believe that this strategy will benefit manufacturers seeking holistic retail merchandising, technology, and reporting solutions that span Europe. Our European teams will offer the industry’s best capabilities and technology along with the local knowledge to address the unique dynamics of individual markets.”