LONDON--Lewis PR is lining up private equity support to help it make more acquisitions in the US, after reporting revenue growth of 14 percent for its most recent fiscal year.
The growth, which does not exclude acquisitions or divestments, took Lewis PR’s revenues to $35 million for the year ending 31 July, 2011. Lewis bought US firm PageOne PR (since renamed Lewis Pulse) during the period, and also sold its UK travel practice to former COO Paul Charles.
Growth, CEO Chris Lewis told the Holmes Report, was strongest in the US, which now accounts for about a third of the firm’s global revenues. He noted that the firm remains focused on building global scale, particularly by acquiring larger firms in the US.
“The company recently received backing for a global acquisitions program, which will enable us to add new digital services and expand to new geographies,” he said, adding that funding would come from a combination of debt finance and two private equity partners.
Lewis' comments come after private equity firm Vitruvian Partners acquired a majority of UK agency College Group. The Holmes Report followed that deal with a detailed analysis earlier this week of the growing links between private equity and the public relations industry.
Lews pointed out that the US accounts for around half of the fee income of the Holmes Report’s Top 250 global firms, and estimated that a further quarter is European spending based on decisions made in North America.
“You have to get big, get niche or get out,” said Lewis. “We certainly need to get bigger and more profitable. We’ve got to scale so that we have more prominence in America in particular.”
“We are looking for key acquisitions in the US and digital space and, together with organic growth, aim to double the business in the next three years,” he added.
The firm does not break out revenue growth per region, but Lewis said that Europe and Asia-Pacific also saw increased earnings. Profits surged by more than 50 percent, with Lewis disclosing that Ebitda was “north of $4m”.
Continental Europe now accounts for 48 percent of Lewis' global revenues, with around 15 percent of earnings coming from the UK.