LONDON: Next Fifteen, the holding group that owns Text 100, Bite and OutCast, is hoping to beef up its investor relations credentials as it searches for a successor to outgoing chairman Will Whitehorn.
Virgin Galactic president Whitehorn is to depart his role after seven years with the company, seven months after his appointment as non-executive chairman at marketing services group Loewy. Next Fifteen CEO Tim Dyson told the Holmes Report that “City experience” is an important requirement for the next chairman, after admitting earlier that public ownership has not necessarily helped the AIM-listed Next Fifteen access more capital.
Dyson’s comments came as Next Fifteen released an encouraging trading update for the first half of its fiscal year. Organic revenue growth and improved profitability, said Dyson, was largely led by strong performances in Next Fifteen’s North American technology and consumer PR agencies – including Text 100, M Booth and OutCast.
Dyson also singled out Bite’s UK performance and the progress of new digital outfit Beyond as drivers behind Next Fifteen’s growth. Analysts Edison Investment Research are forecasting 1H revenues of £38 million and full year revenues of £80.6 million, in line with Next Fifteen’s expectations of double-digit top- and bottom-line growth.
Edison has upgraded its rating for Next Fifteen shares, which are traded on London’s AIM market. In previous interviews, Dyson has admitted that the group’s share price has underperformed, indicating why the new chairman will be asked to play a more “active role in the City.”
“We basically both arrived at the same conclusion, and we’re very thankful for everything he’s done” said Dyson of Whitehorn’s departure. “Will was an unusual person to put in as a chairman, because he’s really known as a media person, particularly in the UK.”
“He has got his hands full with Virgin Galactic, and he hasn’t been as involved in the City side of the business,” added Dyson.
Recent Next Fifteen buys have included less traditional agencies such as digital creative shop Type 3. As the company continues its strategy of targeting technology-based firms, Dyson noted that a chairman with “experience of buying non people-based businesses would be advantageous.”
Dyson denied that Whitehorn’s role with Loewy was a factor in his departure. “Will will be a friend of the family for some time to come. It’s all quite amicable – it’s more a reflection of what we need and what he wants to do.”