Virgo will become part of the Interpublic-owned GolinHarris network, but will retain its name. The terms of the acquisition were undisclosed.
As part of the deal Virgo Health will also establish a US presence, opening a New York office and operating as a separate brand alongside GolinHarris’ existing North American healthcare business.
Founders and joint chief executives Angie Wiles and Sarah Matthew will continue their current roles, reporting to Fred Cook, GolinHarris CEO, and working alongside Matt Neale and Jon Hughes, co-presidents of GH International.
Cook commented: ‘We have enormous respect and admiration for Virgo Health. Our partnership with it will significantly strengthen our healthcare practice and offering in Europe and around the globe.’
Established in 2003, Virgo Health is the largest independent healthcare consultancy in the UK. Last year the 60-strong agency saw revenues grow by 17 per cent to reach £5.5m.
The combined agency will have fee income of around £14.5m (based on 2011 figures) and a staff of around 140. These figures would raise GolinHarris into 16th place on the 2012 PRWeek Top 150 table.
‘The success enjoyed by Virgo over the past nine years has exceeded all of our expectations, but it has long been our aspiration to take Virgo to a whole other level and create a genuine legacy brand,’ said Matthew. ‘We have found a truly like-minded partner in GolinHarris with complementary expertise, shared values and a strong culture… in joining forces with GolinHarris, we are able to optimize our ambitions in terms of extending our geographical reach and impact.’
As well as launching the Virgo brand in North America, the two agencies are to form a digital healthcare practice called Go Digital Health. The joint venture will also draw on the digital expertise of GolinHarris’ recently acquired interactive agency FUSE.
Hughes explained: ‘The goal of this new offering is to realise the true value of digital for healthcare brands, professionals and communities. Go simplifies two complex worlds: digital and health. Our work continues to keep GolinHarris at the forefront of the digital space, while Virgo has a fundamental understanding of the health environment that is second to none.’
Wiles added: ‘The launch of Go is just the beginning. It is a sign of what our partnership will be able to offer healthcare clients domestically, regionally and globally, and we believe there is no team better placed to help healthcare companies unlock the potential of digital while respecting the specific challenges and responsibilities companies in this sector face.’
Virgo will continue to be based in Richmond as there are no plans to move into joint office space.
Virgo Health is a former winner of PRWeek’s Specialist Consultancy of the Year and has been cited for the past three years as one of the top small workplaces in the UK.