Forster Communications opens up ownership to staff

Forster Communications has been bought by its staff as part of a major shift in its ownership structure.

Jilly Forster: Agency founder
Jilly Forster: Agency founder

Jilly Forster, who founded the agency in 1996 and was previously the sole owner, has reduced her stake to 20 per cent.

Fellow directors Amanda Powell-Smith and Peter Gilheany are each taking a 20 per cent stake, with the remaining shares made available to the rest of the staff through an employee benefit trust.

Forster declined to reveal the sum at which the transaction valued the agency.

Under the new ownership structure Powell-Smith becomes MD, Gilheany PR director and Forster takes on the role of chairwoman.

She said: ‘We’ve always said we’re the social change communications agency and we wanted to be built, owned and driven by our employees so it is fantastic that is now a reality. Employee shareholders have the opportunity to become custodians of the agency and to benefit directly from consolidating our success. I just want to acknowledge the unique energy and commitment of Forster staff and spread the ownership as widely as possible – to those who work here.’

Her role will be as a full-time strategic lead, giving direction to the board and providing consultancy.

Powell-Smith will spearhead client delivery and building teams, while Gilheany will lead on major campaigns and PR strategy development, as well as providing senior counsel to clients.

The management buy-out comes as the agency gears up to expand the breadth and depth of its work, with a specific focus on businesses and charities looking to create positive change.

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