Freshwater buys top 20 consumer agency

LONDON - Acquisitive PR group Freshwater UK has made its most significant purchase to date, buying London-based consumer shop Attenborough Saffron for £2m.

The agency is likely to be rebranded as Freshwater Consumer later this year.

Attenborough Saffron has 27 staff. It registered a fee income of £1.98m in PRWeek's Top 150 Consultancies Report 2006, where it was the 17th largest consumer PR agency by revenue.

It was launched in 1970 as Attenborough Associates by Barbara Attenborough - mother to brother and sister management team Nick and Claire Attenborough. It bought Saffron PR in 2004 (PRWeek, 29 Nov 2003).

The £2m has been split between the company's three directors - the Attenboroughs and Saffron founder Jayne Readman - and one silent partner.

The directors will be retained under the terms of the deal for at least 12 months, when they will be given Freshwater share options.

Freshwater Consumer is already an active arm of Freshwater UK, created when the company acquired London consumer agency Trew Relations (PRWeek, 17 Dec 2005).

Last year, Cardiff-based Freshwater - led by CEO Steve Howell - acquired health and public sector specialist Clear (PRWeek, 9 June 2006) and tech agency Black & White Communications (PRWeek, 3 March 2006). They have rebranded to Freshwater Academy and Freshwater Technology.

Freshwater director Edward Carter said it was seeking more acquisitions, particularly in the North-West and Scotland. ‘Spend in PR is quite strong, but it is an increasingly fragmented sector,' he added.

Freshwater has 90 staff in eight UK offices, with a turnover of around £8m.

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