Leeds-based Home Group has seen phenomenal growth, despite the economic downturn. It has doubled turnover and profit in the last three years alone as well as establishing a number of overseas offices and it has ambitious plans for further expansion.
With its headquarters in Roundhay, Home began from humble beginnings as a traditional advertising agency in 2002 with a staff of just five people. The group has grown both organically and by acquisition and now comprises 13 companies offering clients a full range of integrated marketing services. It employs a 177-strong team and boasts offices in London, Gibraltar and Sydney as well as Leeds. The group had a turnover of £25m last year.
“Marketing trends tend to go in cycles – during the 70s and 80s integrated agencies were in vogue, but by the 90s specialist agencies were in demand. We’ve benefitted from a move back to integrated agencies with clients wanting a joined-up approach to communications, with all services available from a single source,” explains Dave Sewards, chief executive of Home Group. “Whether a client needs just one specialist service such as search or advertising, or a range of elements from the marketing mix, they can come to us.
“While we work across many sectors, in 2007 we made a strategic decision to focus on certain industries which we felt would be recession proof. For example, we targeted the gambling and gaming sector– we decided to become experts in the sector and even opened an office in Gibraltar to help us to get us closer to the 20 biggest players. Over the last seven years, the sector has thrived and we believe that no agency in the world now has as much experience in gambling and gaming as us.
“Another target sector is pharmaceuticals. Again, pharma tends not to be affected by economic swings so we invested in the acquisition of an agency which specialised in pharma, giving us the knowledge to effectively serve the sector,” adds Dave. “We also recognised that online retail would be the way of the future and, therefore, focussed on growing our expertise of marketing online fashion brands.”
The group’s vision and entrepreneurial approach has paid off. Some new business development has been opportunistic, but much has been strategic. It has completed six acquisitions in the last 18 months and has three more acquisitions in its sights.
“We have an ambitious three year plan with significant growth expected through acquisition and by selling a wider range of services to our existing client base,” explains Dave. “A key to our success has been partnering with professionals who really understand our business and can provide real insight. We started working with Clarion four years ago following a recommendation and the team has proved invaluable, taking on a more far-reaching role as business advisers rather than just lawyers.
“Whereas previously we only involved lawyers at the last minute to handle the legal paperwork, we now get the Clarion team on board at the earliest stage so they can provide strategic input. Jonathan Simms in particular has been a fantastic support, for example, he’s already been working with us to identify three new sectors to target and the key companies within these sectors. He’s also extremely well-connected and has put us in touch with players within our targeted industries.”
Dave continues: “As well as providing corporate advice, Clarion now delivers all of our legal services, from employment and commercial contracts to intellectual property. The team has the knack of taking care of the complexities and simplifying the process for us as well as genuinely acting as trusted advisers to the wider business.”
Jonathan Simms, partner in Clarion’s corporate team, adds: “It’s fantastic to see a dynamic and forward-looking company like Home realising its vision. As an adviser, it’s extremely rewarding to be a part of the company’s continued success and to be able to play a full role in advising the business, from providing strategic input to delivering legal services. It is a great example of Clarion’s ethos of providing a holistic approach – we are committed to investing in long term relationships, really getting under the skin of clients’ businesses and adding value.”
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