Llorente & Cuenca PRWeek Global Agency Business Report 2016

The past 12 months marked an extraordinary year for the comms, public affairs and reputation management firm Llorente & Cuenca

Principals: José Antonio Llorente, chairman and CEO; Enrique González, partner and CFO; Adolfo Corujo, partner and chief talent and innovation officer; Tomás Matesanz, chief corporate officer
Ownership: Independent
Offices: Global 16
Revenues: Global $33.3m  (£23.1m)
Headcount: Global 482

The agency completed numerous acquisitions with help from a mid-year cash injection, added more than 100 staff members and saw organic growth of 20 per cent.

Worldwide, the agency reported more than 30 key account wins, adding household brands such as McDonald’s, Microsoft, Samsung, Telefonica, Visa, Walmart and Whirlpool to its ever-expanding client roster. 

Mergers and acquisitions featured heavily during a busy 2015, with the agency closing an impressive four deals. In Spain, digital innovation consultancy Cink and Impossible Tellers, a consulting firm that creates communication and branding strategies, trans-media stories and change management programmes for executives, were integrated into the fold.

In the Americas, Llorente & Cuenca acquired a majority stake in Brazilian agency S/A Comunicação; and EDF Communications became the first US-based acquisition. This was integrated into the Miami office, which launched in July 2015 under the leadership of Alejandro Romero, partner and CEO for Latin America and lead for the EDF acquisition.

During the course of 2015, Llorente & Cuenca won a total of 54 awards, up from 36 the previous year. Award-winning campaigns were created for numerous clients including Coca-Cola, Iberia, Avon, Antamina, Gas Natural Fenosa, Gonvarri Steel Industries, SABMiller and L´Oréal. Llorente & Cuenca scooped the biggest prize in the Global Partnership category at the PRWeek Global Awards. This was for its work on the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil together with Máquina da Notícia for Instituto Brasileiro de Turismo – Embratur.  It was also nominated as the company that communicates best using LinkedIn in Spain at LinkedIn #PremiosIN2015.

José Antonio Llorente, chairman and CEO of the agency, attributes a phenomenal year to numerous factors: "We’ve been keeping up with all the trends in key areas from digital through to trans-media. Performance in Latin America was strong despite the weak currency. Importantly, we were not forced to restructure when the economic crisis hit and so once the markets started to recover in Europe, we were in a prime position to deal with the increased demand for clients.

"Over the past 12 months we also saw demand for reputation management increase. It’s clear this is becoming critical for all organisations from multinationals through to governments in the digital-first world."

During 2015 five new partners were integrated into Llorente & Cuenca’s shareholder committee, which now stands at a total of 22 members. New partners included Juan Cuesta, from MBO; Sergio Cortés, founder and chairman of Cink; Goyo Panadero, MD for Europe (Spain and Portugal) and founding partner of Impossible Tellers; Marco Antonio Sabino, chairman of S/A Llorente & Cuenca; and Erich de la Fuente, CEO for the US and founder of EDF Communications.

There is a huge recruitment drive too. The total headcount of the agency grew to 482 professionals. Over the past year, 46 people were added thanks to the firm’s organic growth, while 85 jobs were integrated as part of acquisitions.

Internally, joint MD for Europe Adolfo Corujo was promoted to head up a new corporate talent, organisation and innovation division. The aim is to continue diversifying the workforce, which is already made up of professionals from a variety of backgrounds including comms/journalism, business management, legal and even the engineering fields.

Panadero took over as joint MD in Europe, overseeing the agency's operations in Spain and Portugal, where it employs 180 people across five offices. He is joined by joint MD Arturo Pinedo, who also leads the crisis comms, litigation comms, corporate and labour restructuring practice. 

With the majority of business (65 per cent) for the agency in 2015 coming from its stronghold in Latin America, unsurprisingly this is an area where the firm is targeting further expansion. During 2016, a strategic three-year business plan will be drawn up and this is expected to include proposals to extend operations in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Chile, as well as add a Cuban office.

Organic growth is expected to continue as the demand for services grows and the services provided by the PR industry cross over with other sectors.

"The world is evolving at a phenomenal pace and clients want their communications to be integrated and connected. The limits of the PR discipline are no longer strictly defined. To address the needs of clients we now find ourselves crossing over into the world of consultancy, advertising and marketing. While this provides us with space to grow, the competition is also fierce," Llorente continues.

"Before the rise of digital tools comms was simply used by companies to inform. Today, it is used to listen, understand and act. Creating content is no longer about just generating news, but now it’s about creating narratives with the different types of media."

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