LONDON--Lexis PR is to acquire UK independent Paratus as part of a continued effort to rejuvenate its business, the Holmes Report can reveal.
The development follows the relaunch of the Next Fifteen firm in late 2011, amid tough financial conditions. Next Fifteen’s recent results revealed “weakness” in its UK consumer operations, and noted that Lexis had been restructured to “accelerate the transition to digital.”
The acquisition of Paratus is intended to help address these issues. The consumer PR firm was founded in 2003 by former H+K executives John Rivett and Dominic Shales, and operates a relatively unique model that sees 11 full-time staffers complemented by a 150-strong global freelance network.
Crucially, Paratus brings a well-regarded digital operation, led by Adam Vincenzini. Paratus also shares a key client relationship, Coca-Cola, with Lexis among a roster that also includes Costa Coffee, AXA, Decathlon, Shell and Sainsbury.
Paratus’ fee income for its most recent fiscal year was £1.7m. The value of the deal remains undisclosed but Lexis has acquired 100 percent of the independent agency.
Rivett will become head of consumer at Lexis, with Shales taking on leadership of content, creative, planning and digital. Vincenzini will oversee digital, reporting to Shales. All of Paratus’ remaining staff members will move into the Lexis office.
Lexis is now headed by MD Jason Gallucci, following the departure of previous MD Margot Raggett last year. Gallucci is attempting to cast the firm as one focused on “helping brands exploit the power of third party recommendation.”
“It’s a fantastic step on our evolution of Lexis,” said Gallucci. “We are looking at how we transition within the shifting sands of the PR landscape.”
Shales noted that the complementary nature of the businesses - there are no client conflicts - and the shared background of himself, Rivett and Gallucci proved decisive in the decision to sell. The trio previously worked together at H+K.
“Any decision to sell is a big one and we didn’t take it lightly but we are really excited about the prospect of moving to an agency where we obviously know Jason,” said Shales. “That trust is really important. There are very few agencies that we would have considered moving to.”
“How we’ve built the business is entrepreneurial,” added Shales. “Lexis is a bigger agency but not too big so we can bring that entrepreneurialism to bear.”
Next Fifteen began its acquisition of Lexis in 2005. At the time, the agency was one of the UK's biggest independent players. Last year, the firm lost its key Boots account.