Next 15 reports improved trading, buys financial research firm Charterhouse

Next 15 has reported an improved performance in the second and third quarters of 2017 after a slow Q1, and announced the acquisition of financial market research consultancy Charterhouse Research for £2.75m ($3.7m).

CEO Tim Dyson: New acquisition significantly enhances Next 15's financial services offering
CEO Tim Dyson: New acquisition significantly enhances Next 15's financial services offering

Revenue for Next 15, the listed owner of PR agencies Bite, Lexis, Text100 and The Blueshirt Group, rose 16 per cent to £93.5m ($126.1m) in the first half of 2017, the group announced this morning.

Pre-tax profit grew 13 per cent to £12m ($16.2m) and underlying earnings (EBITDA) also rose 13 per cent to £14.5m ($19.6m) - figures exclude acquisition-related costs, amortisation and other factors.

Organic revenue (which excludes the impact of currency fluctuations and acquisitions) rose just two per cent in the first half. Next 15 said Q1 was held back by "geopolitical uncertainty" and comparisons with the same period last year when there were several large, one-off projects.

However, there was "improved trading" in the second and third quarters, with organic growth in August and September back in "high single digits, which is expected to continue for the rest of the year".

The company said improved trading over the last three months means it is well placed to meet full-year expectations, encouraging the board to increase the interim dividend by 20 per cent to 1.8p per share.

Client wins in the period included LG Electronics, Grubhub, Marvell and NTT Data.

Chairman Richard Eyre said: "The group has continued to invest in agile companies operating in this augmented value chain and in the first half, Group revenue grew by 16 per cent. The addition of several businesses to the Group has been matched by some important client wins.

"A 20 per cent increase in the dividend reflects the board’s confidence in the Group’s performance for this financial year."

Regarding the acquisition of Charterhouse Research, which was founded in 2004 and generated pre-tax profit of £0.6m last year on revenue of £2.7m, Next 15 CEO Tim Dyson said: "Next 15 is committed to building a deep data and insight capability at its core. Charterhouse is an important step in that strategy, significantly enhancing our financial services offering."

It follows a swathe of acquisitions at Next 15 in recent months, including UK-based integrated digital agency Elvis Communications, b2b market research consultancy Circle Research and Velocity Partners, another digital shop.

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