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Huntsworth advertising & marketing assignments

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Huntsworth is the PR, corporate communications and healthcare group launched in 2000 by Lord Peter Chadlington, previously the founder of Shandwick (now Weber Shandwick). The company was transformed in the 2000s by a series of acquisitions, not least the reverse takeover in 2005 of much larger marketing services group Incepta, whose portfolio included financial communications specialist Citigate Dewe Rogerson. The enlarged business adopted the Huntsworth name and its portfolio of non-PR businesses was sold on to rival group Media Square. Other key acquisitions included Grayling and Dorland Global. The latter formed the platform for what is now a substantial global healthcare communications division, bolstered by a series of further bolt-on purchases. After 2010, though, the group in general and Grayling in particular struggled with poor performance. That led to the departure of founder Chadlington in 2015 and a pivot by the group as a whole towards healthcare communications. Paul Taaffe, formerly chairman of Hill & Knowlton, was appointed as CEO at the end of 2014, and slowly succeeded in turning the business around. Revenues for 2019 reached a record high of £265m, more than 70% of which was generated by healthcare marketing. Net profit was £22.5m. Key units include medical communications division MediStrava, experiential and events specialist Creative Engagement, and health & wellness marketing agency Evoke. In 2020, it acquired UK-headquartered Nucleus Global, which claims to be the world's largest specialist healthcare communications network with 14 separately branded offices in the US, Europe and Asia. That same year, Huntsworth was itself acquired by US private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice for around £400m. The group also continues to house its three non-healthcare communications agencies. Grayling's performance has stabilised but it is a shadow of its former self. At its peak in 2011 it was among the Top 15 PR agencies worldwide. PRovoke (formerly The Holmes Report) ranked it as the global #46 agency in 2019 with fee income of $51m. Citigate Dewe Rogerson ranked #84 with $29m while Red was outside the Top 100 at £17m. In 2022, the group's traditional PR division rebranded as Accordience.

Capsule checked 17th February 2021

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Recent stories from Adbrands Update:

Adbrands Update 27th May 2022: Huntsworth announced an overhaul of its traditional PR division, currently known as Huntsworth Communications. That business - which houses Grayling, Citigate Dewe Rogerson, Red and newly acquired Cirkle - now becomes Accordience, under the leadership of Grayling CEO Sarah Scholefield. Huntsworth's healthcare division Huntsworth Health will continue to use the parent brand.

Adbrands Update 7th Apr 2022: Huntsworth made a comparatively rare acquisition outside the healthcare sector, adding UK PR agency Cirkle for an undisclosed sum. The agency will retain its separate identity (for now at least), working alongside Grayling, Red Agency and Citigate Dewe Rogerson. Cirkle CEO Ruth Kieran joins the Huntsworth board but founder Caroline Kinsey will exit the business.

Adbrands Weekly Update 9th Mar 2018: Marketing services group Huntsworth has accepted a private buyout from investment firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice for an enterprise value of around £524m, or a little under twice annual revenues. The offer is worth roughly half as much again as the group's undisturbed share price, and has been recommended by the board. The deal marks an impressive victory for CEO Paul Taafe who has succeeded in turning around was was previously a group struggling to cope with the repercussion of uncontrolled expansion. Healthcare marketing now accounts for more than 70% of revenues, following a complete pivot away from general PR agencies. The latter - comprising the Grayling, Citigate and Red brands - reported its first year-on-year growth for a decade in 2019.

Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Mar 2018: Troubled marketing services group Huntsworth finally appears to have turned the corner, reporting its first net profit since 2013. The group is best-known as the parent of PR agencies Grayling, Citigate Dewe Rogerson and Red, but that side of the business has had a dismal few years, and is still in steady decline. Grayling in particular is a shadow of what it once was following years of restructuring, with revenues down from over £140m in 2011 to just £41m for 2017. Instead, Huntsworth's focus has shifted to healthcare marketing, which now contributes over 60% of revenues and almost 80% of profits. Its biggest subsidiaries in this field are US-based pharma marketing agency Evoke and medical communications specialist Apothecom. Combined revenues for the year rose 9% to £197m, and the group posted a net profit of £15.7m.

Adbrands Weekly Update 4th May 2017: Chinese PR group BlueFocus has pulled out of struggling UK counterpart Huntsworth, selling the bulk of its 20% shareholding for a loss, and placing the remaining shares up for sale at a later date.

Adbrands Weekly Update 16th April 2015: There was little sign of a magic bullet yet at British PR group Huntsworth, owners of PR networks Grayling, Citigate and Red. Another disappointing year saw further erosion of revenues to £165m, as well as a £56m net loss. improvements that had been forecast mid-year failed to materialise, resulting in a £75m impairment charge, mainly against lead network Grayling. Revenues at all three PR networks declined year-on-year, with only specialist arm Huntsworth Health reporting an increase. New CEO Paul Taafe has only just arrived at the group this month to take over from departed founder CEO Lord Chadlington. He has a challenge on his hands. Otherwise, the group faces the likelihood of being broken up between two of its biggest shareholders, Chinese PR group BlueFocus, and US investor Lake Capital, which also owns WCRS marketing services group Engine.


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