NEW YORK—North Carolina public relations firm French/West/Vaughan, which reopened its New York office earlier this year, has merged that operation with the JB Cumberland Group, a boutique Manhattan public relations firm best known for its work in the home furnishings sector. Joanna Cumberland, founder of the JB Cumberland Group, will serve as president and head of day-to-day operations for the new firm,
working closely with FWV president & CEO Rick French.
The new FWV Cumberland will have a staff of 10 people and annual fee billings in the range of $1 million. It will represent clients such as Bodum, iSi and Mundial, as well as providing support for FWV accounts such as Wrangler Home and various VF Jeanswear brands.
French/West/Vaughan is one of the largest independent public relations firms in the country, with a staff of around 80 public relations, public affairs, research and advertising professionals. The firm opened an office in New York earlier this year with the intention of acquiring or merging with an established agency in the market. French says he held acquisition talks with close to a dozen agencies over the past eight months.
“After meeting with a number of prospective partners and completing due diligence on a few, I came away very impressed with Joanna personally and the way in which she has run her agency over the years, the clients she has been able to attract as a boutique in a very competitive market, and the outstanding workplace culture that thrives there,” said French.
FWV will move its staff, including executive vice president and agency co-founder Lauren Taylor, into Cumberland’s Chelsea space in the next few weeks. French said he, Cumberland and Taylor have set a goal of 50 percent growth for the new entity over the next 12 months.
“It’s an exciting new chapter in my PR career,” said Cumberland, who re-formed her agency five years ago after folding her previous agency into LobenzStevens in the mid 90s. “From a non-traditional Southeastern base, FWV as done an amazing job of growing into one of the largest independent agencies in the country with a very impressive client roster.”