Axon Communications

Axon, a specialist in healthcare and medical PR, went into 2012 aiming for a game-changing year, and emerged with 57 per cent growth.

Ralph Sutton: International managing partner, Axon
Ralph Sutton: International managing partner, Axon

Fee income pounds: 4,410,000 Growth: 57% Staff: 36 Position in Top 150: 50

It was the most successful year the agency has seen in its ten-year history, which mirrored the success of Canad-ian parent company, National Public Relations.

'This wasn't a one-off,' international managing partner Ralph Sutton claims. He admits the agency secured 'one very big win', but adds that much of its growth came from winning new project work from existing clients.

Axon's rapid growth may have levelled off in the first five months of 2013 but remains in 'double digits'.

Digital activity has shown a strong uptrend, with the agency asked to provide education and communication around clinical trials. Nearly all of Axon's campaigns will include digital components, with some exclusively digital.

Sutton praises the agency's 'stable' senior team and explains that one of the advantages Axon enjoys is having 12 staff members with PHDs, which adds a 'strong scientific backbone to the business' and has 'paid dividends'.

Axon did not lose a single client in 2012, and barely saw any staff leave either. One of the challenges for this year is sustaining what the agency has already achieved. 'When you grow this quickly, you've got to put a lot of effort into recruitment and hiring the right people, while retaining the culture of the business. It's hard work,' he says.

2012 at a glance

Three best campaigns: 'Getting Personal: Personalising colorectal cancer care' for Merck Serono; the ACT programme on behalf of Shire Pharmaceuticals; the 'I plan on' for Merck Sharp & Dohme

Significant hires: Bringing in Tine Hahn last year as it opened its Copenhagen operation. The agency has frequently worked with Danish companies and the new office has strengthened its ties with the region

Predicted fee income for 2013: Ten to 12 per cent growth for the year

Plans for the year ahead: Sustain the rapid growth achieved in 2012, maintaining a bigger team and client base, while eyeing up potential acquisitions to expand the agency's capability.

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