Holland Mark Makes Staff Cut

Holland Mark Advertising, bracing for the loss of more than $20 million in business from TJX Cos., has cut 15-20 staffers, most of whom worked on the retail account.

“This is the part of the business that I hate the most,” said Chris Colbet, president of the Boston agency. “We had to let some people go. It’s a sad thing.”

About 15-20 mainly lower and mid-level employees were trimmed in various departments, Colbert said, though he declined to identify those who were dismissed.

One source, speaking on terms of anonymity, said the cut may have been slightly deeper, with 25-30 staffers being shown the door.

All of the cuts came from Holland Mark’s advertising operations, where about 140-150 employees now remain, Colbert said. BeNow, the company’s recently renamed e-marketing and database subsidiary in Wakefield, Mass., continues to employ 75 people and was not affected by the cut, Colbert said.

The cuts understandably hit the TJX team most heavily, though Dwight Garland, the group brand director who oversees the business day-to-day, is staying through year’s end, at which time all TJX work will likely have left the agency.

After that, it is hoped he will be reassigned, Colbert said.

TJX’s T.J. Maxx discount clothing chain, with an ad budget around $20 million, and its Homegoods division, which spends about $2 million on ads, are currently reviewing agencies after splitting with Holland Mark three weeks ago. TJX’s A.J. Wright stores has already moved from Holland Mark to The Link Agency in Providence, R.I. [Adweek, Sept. 25].

Holland Mark’s subsequent addition of Persumma Financial [Ad-week, Oct. 2], “certainly helped” mitigate the layoffs to some extent, but “when you lose a chunk of revenue [the size of TJX] you have to cut expenses,” Colbert said.

TJX, Framingham, Mass., had worked with Ingalls, Boston, for nearly a quarter-century before the shop was purchased late in 1999 by Holland Mark.