A $1.5 million debt by Dubai developer Nakheel is believed to have contributed to the collapse of Sydney-based design and branding agency The One Centre.
The 10-year-old agency, which was regarded as one of Australia’s finest and had only recently opened an office in Dubai last December, went into administration last month.
Now, according to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald, the agency’s fate appears all but sealed as the administrators admitted a sale was “unlikely as the advertising recession tightens”. The financial year had seen The One Centre’s revenues collapsed from $9.6 million to $5.5 million.
In the SMH article, Julian Lee stated that: “The failure by one client, Dubai’s biggest developer, the royal family-backed Nakheel, to pay the agency $1.5 million in fees, escalated the debt. The administrators’ lawyers are looking at what, if any, action can be taken against Nakheel.”
The Dubai office had been managed by Jodie Metax, formerly a joint managing partner in Sydney, with support from account director Mark Higgs and client services director Andy Gould. The office had primarily been opened due to its work with Nakheel, which included the positioning and branding of Palm Mall on Palm Jumeirah – a project it had won in a competitive worldwide pitch, beating London and New York-based agencies.
The One Centre was also working for clients in Abu Dhabi and had plans to open an office there this year. In December, the agency’s founder, John Ford, said: “Abu Dhabi is now the richest city in the world. However there are very few branding companies there, which provides the perfect opportunity to establish a substantial world client base.”
The agency’s clients had included Audi, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola.