In the five years this publication has been covering the EMEA region, no firm has improved its capabilities as dramatically as Fleishman-Hillard, which until recently had struggled to build the kind of European presence it needed to complement its exceptional North American capabilities, but now is increasingly capable of competing on an equal footing with longer-established competitors for the largest local accounts as well as for pan-regional business.
The firm’s European business continued to grow last year, albeit more modestly than in recent years, so that mid-2009 income was up by about 8 percent over 2007 levels, thanks in part to the addition of clients such as Philips; Scottish Development International; the UK Centre for Medical Research & Innovation; the Alliance of Sector Skills Councils; the Women’s Tennis Association; the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development; RIM (Blackberry); and Russian telecoms company TKK. The firm also continues to work with major clients such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, Procter & Gamble, Avaya, Boehringer-Ingelheim, UCB Pharmaceuticals, AT&T, Standard & Poors, McCain, Danone, and Inbev.
Fleishman can also boast a balanced geographic portfolio. The firm’s U.K. operations are its largest in the region, with about 125 people and strength across all major practice areas—public affairs, healthcare, technology, consumer and corporate—under the leadership of Lucien Vallun. But Fleishman also has an increasingly formidable presence in the region’s two other key markets: in Germany, it has consolidated its Frankfurt, Berlin and Munich offices under a single leadership structure, with Wolfgang Kuesters at the helm of a team of about 70; while in Brussels there are close to 50 under the leadership of Caroline Wunnerlich.
But the most significant factor in Fleishman’s recent improvement is the strength of its leadership team, with regional presidents Kevin Bell and John Saunders supported by chief operating officer Guillaume Herbette and business development chief Harald Simons and a strong line up of general managers including Vallun (now responsible for Central and Eastern Europe); Wunnerlich; Kuesters; Karen Van Bergen (who has doubled the size of the Amsterdam office); and Gita Angeli, who has led a turnaround in Milan.