Campaign: Financial PR - Omega makes it onto City map with AIM float

Campaign: Omega AIM listing

Client: Omega International Group

PR Team: Buchanan Communications and Robert Beaumont

Timescale: December 2003-April 2004

Budget: £30,000-£40,000

Last December, high-quality furniture maker Omega International decided to float on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) and tasked Buchanan Communications with promoting the story. Robert Beaumont was appointed to handle local media relations in Yorkshire. Objectives

To raise Omega's profile and provide a platform for the manufacturer to market to City institutions. Ultimately, Omega wanted to repay short-term debt and increase market share.

Strategy and Plan

The PR team flagged up Omega's investment potential and the strengths of its leadership, but was also wary of potential pitfalls with regards to the history of the firm's management.

In particular, Buchanan wanted to underline that chairman Bob Murray had left his former kitchen furniture manufacturing business Spring Ram - a one-time City darling - three years before its share price collapsed in 1993 over accounting issues.

As such, the PR team played ball with The Sunday Telegraph when the newspaper broke the story of Omega coming to market and questioned Murray's involvement in Spring Ram.

The intention to float was announced officially in March, with the newswires and the Financial Times predicting a market capitalisation of £25m. The revelation that businesswoman and cookery writer Prue Leith would be a non-executive director of the firm created further interest.

Measurement and Evaluation

The flotation gained print coverage across the national media, including The Times, The Independent, The Guardian, the Daily Express and The Sunday Times.

Regional interest included the Yorkshire Post, while the story also featured in the investment media, including Investors Chronicle.

Results

The IPO was fully subscribed and on 13 April, shares were listed on AIM at a price of 113p, giving a market capitalisation above expectation of £31.5m.

The sale raised £9.5m for working capital and debt repayment. However, share price has fallen slightly - it was 100p on 10 August.

'Given that we were maybe spoiling Buchanan's plans from a timing point of view by leaking the story, it still wasn't difficult to get hold of Murray for an interview,' says The Sunday Telegraph deputy City editor Grant Ringshaw.

'And their approach was very much up front about the Spring Ram issue: if they'd tried to play it down or gloss over it, it would have been a stupid thing to do,' he adds.

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