This was the year that Firefly reinvented itself to become an e-business. The agency overhauled its own infrastructure introducing intranet and extranet services for employees and clients. Technology investment is running at over pounds 350,000 annually.
The 12-year-old agency is wholly owned by directors and employees, debt-free and self-funded, and achieves margins over 50 per cent greater than the industry average.
Financial performance in the year to 31 July 2000 was again superb. Fee income grew by 37 per cent, and pre-tax profits by 40 per cent. The agency has expanded 473 per cent in the last five years, placing it among the higher echelons of PR Week's best performers over that period.
The majority of growth in the past year has come from existing clients, but there were significant wins such as AltaVista, First Direct, Scottish Power, Alcatel, and Yell.com. Business from the agency's top three clients increased by 18 per cent.
The Firefly Hothouse, a team devoted to internet start-ups, doubled business to over pounds 750,000, and new offices were opened in Glasgow and Paris.
Innovation has been an important element in the consultancy's growth.
The Internet Press Centre serving over 900 journalists and analysts is now in its third evolution.
A joint venture company, Fresh Toast, was set up to provide interactive internet press centre services to corporates and PR agencies. Value-added consultancy services such as speaker platforms, new media and design, and media training have also blossomed.
People have not been overlooked either. The highly successful graduate recruitment programme hired 26 new graduates in the last financial year.
An appraisal and mentor system has seen many of these rise through the ranks.
Staff retention is around 80 per cent, significantly above the industry average. Firefly is proud of its reputation, and for the second year running was voted number one hi-tech agency by the media in MORI's annual independent survey.
Despite the departure of two founders and a major office move Fishburn Hedges had its most successful year ever. The agency enjoyed the second highest organic growth of any top 20 consultancy in the 1999 PR Week league tables, with fee income up 33 per cent. It added several blue chips to its client list including Abbey National, Centrica and ICI Paints, and set up a Brussels office.
The Red Consultancy.