Imagination is Europe's largest independent brand experience and design company, handling everything from sponsored events and exhibitions to interior and packaging design, corporate communications and branding and digital development. However it is best-known for grand-scale events - not least, the spectacular annual New Year's Eve celebrations in Sydney, Australia - and has an exceptional reputation for show-stopping product launches and conferences, as well as consumer-oriented "brand experiences". Turnover for 2017 was £245m, with gross profit of £81m. Around 45% of that sum is generated in the UK; other key markets are the US, China, Australia and the Middle East, and the group has 12 international offices. Satellite businesses specialise in investor relations roadshows and presentations, interior design consultancy (as Virgile & Stone), and even theatrical entertainment. Founder Gary Withers remains chairman and controls more than two-thirds of voting rights. The rest is shared among management and an employee trust. Patrick Reid replaced Douglas Broadley as CEO in 2017. Withers founded the company in 1978 as a management buyout of Saffron Design Associates, which he had founded 10 years earlier. Renamed Imagination, the company came to specialise in business conferences for blue-chip companies during the 1980s. Standout projects over the following years included the opening of Tate Modern and the Millennium Dome in London, and the Guinness Storehouse experience in Dublin. In 1998 the company set up its first office in the US to service cornerstone client Ford, followed by offices in Hong Kong, Stockholm and Cologne.
Capsule checked 22nd November 2018
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