A specialist marketing firm claims to have discovered alarming growth in the number of online 'bedroom brokers' operating in the removals industry.

The findings came to light after Internet Marketing Services - www.imswebwise.com - based at the Wolverhampton Science Park, was appointed by movers, shippers and storers Burke Bros Moving Group to help it understand the rapidly changing face of internet marketing, especially in the removals industry.

Gary Burke, managing director of Burke Bros, commissioned IMS to undertake an online market intelligence assignment to also inform him of the current trends and developments in online advertising in the removals industry.

The startling results convinced Burke Bros that it now needs to seriously embrace the internet in its future marketing and advertising strategy.

Mr Burke said: "Alongside identifying the growing trend in internet advertising, we've also noticed a downside.

"There's currently an alarming trend in online removal brokers, or what we call 'bedroom-brokers' springing up.

"As a regulated and legitimate 50 person-strong international removals and storage company with over 25 years experience, our own storage premises, and fleet of removal lorries, we're becoming more and more concerned by this new breed of bedroom-based online brokers that are stealing our online removals enquiries.

"These often unregulated, so called, brokers are setting up websites, running high profile search engine campaigns, and taking business from our industry.

"They are then charging the industry's established removal firm's commission for handing over those captured sales enquiries.

"These brokers have no real resources or support staff and are making themselves look like a bone fide company.

"But all they're really doing is mopping up all the growing on-line removals enquiries, then simply re-channelling them back through to legitimate removals firms, like ourselves, whilst charging us hefty commissions for these sales leads. So we've decided to fight-back against this trend."

Carl Jarvis, managing director of IMS, said he had seen evidence of this trend in other quarters.

"IMS are seeing more of our clients falling prey to the 'bedroom-based' broker approach."

Hilton Hall in South Staffordshire, which offers serviced business office suites and conference facilities, has begun to notice the same effects. Maureen Symonds, general manager at Hilton Hall, said: "We too are finding more online brokers capturing our market enquiries and then selling those sales leads back to us for hefty commissions."

Meanwhile, Burke Bros has decided to continue using the services of Internet Marketing Services.

Mr Burke said: "We are delighted with the excellent work carried out by IMS and we want them to continue to take care of all our future internet marketing needs.

"We are looking to them as being our new online marketing manager to help us embrace and develop our future internet marketing activitiesm, while also helping us combat this 'bedroom-broker' based trend."