A pivot to China: The Observatory International to close in Singapore and open in Hong Kong

Global consultancy firm The Observatory International is to close its Singapore office by the end of the year, due to the Asia-Pacific managing partners – Richard Bleasdale and Paul Davies – leaving the company and a pivot away from South East Asia towards China.

The duo have said they wanted “to move on to new opportunities within the industry” to be announced soon. And the consultancy firm revealed to Mumbrella that both had indeed “been offered outstanding opportunities” elsewhere. It is thought the consultancy bought out the equity stake of the two partners, although the price has not been revealed. 

The company’s other existing Asia offices, in Japan and Korea, will remain open and plans are in train to open a further office in Hong Kong at the same time as the Singapore operation winds up. The Hong Kong office will be focused on new business in the Greater China region.

Asked how many people were losing their jobs in Singapore, a company spokesperson replied that the consultancy worked mainly with freelancers – before adding: “Our planning process has enabled us to ensure that all of the remaining staff in the Singapore office have been able to secure ongoing employment.

“We’re taking the opportunity of Paul and Richard’s departure to completely redesign our Asian network and ensure that we are truly offering the service that our clients need today and tomorrow – with a greater focus on China.

“The Singapore office remains open for the rest of the year and there will be no gap in the provision of high-level advice to our clients. Where necessary, our global network of consultants based across nine markets will assist our APAC-based clients.”

Bleasdale has been with the consultancy firm since 2010

Bleasdale, who has an agency background – having been chief executive officer at Iris Singapore and group managing director at DDB Singapore – has been with the consultancy firm since 2010. He has also worked internationally in markets including the United Kingdom, China, India, Japan, Korea and Australia.

Davies had been with the firm since 2012 and has also worked for agencies, including Ogilvy, previously – again in a number of international settings.

Davies joined in 2012

Often competing against R3, The Observatory International was known to be in the running for managing the Singapore Airlines pitch now taking place. But the work eventually went to R3, headed up by principal and co-founder Shufen Goh.

Among The Observatory International’s clients is the Singapore Tourism Board. And across the world, the firm also has offices in London, Paris, Hamburg, Zurich, Johannesburg and Dubai.

Describing its offering on the website, the company states: “Today more than ever, marketers need to drive greater efficiencies and demonstrate both tangible improvements in marketing RoI and a strategic contribution to business growth.

“The Observatory International offers support at every stage of planning, procurement, resource allocation, agency selection and relationship management.”

There have also been rumours in the market that Martin Sorrell had been talking to The Observatory International about a possible partnership, although the firm’s spokesperson denied any knowledge of this.


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