US independent Finn acquires UK travel specialist Brighter Group

Brighter Group, the London-based travel PR specialist, has been bought by US independent PR firm Finn Partners as both agencies pursue global ambitions.

Partners: Flynn (l) and Finn
Partners: Flynn (l) and Finn

Finn Partners, one of the biggest independent PR firms in the US, will take over 22-strong, London-based Brighter from 1 January 2018. Both parties declined to disclose financial details.

New York-headquartered Finn Partners is targeting further acquisitions in the UK and Asia, with founding partner Peter Finn telling PRWeek that it seeks to become one of the world's top three independent PR firms within a few years.

Brighter will retain its name for at least five years but becomes 'a Finn Partners company' immediately.

Debbie Flynn, Brighter's founder and CEO will serve as managing partner, reporting to both Chantal Bowman-Boyles - Finn Partners' London-based leader of EMEA - and Gail Moaney, managing partner, tourism practice leader, at Finn Partners, New York.

Steve Dunne, current chairman of the Brighter Group, will become senior partner, strategy; and Fiona Jeffery, non-executive director will take on the role of global tourism advisor for Finn Partners.

Peter Finn said: "Our tourism group is one of our core US practice areas and we have been eager to add a London travel team so that we can offer support in EMEA to our existing client base. Bringing the Brighter Group on board is the perfect solution for us."

London calling

Founded in 2011, the New York-headquartered Finn Partners had nearly 500 staff and annual global revenues of $77.7m (£57.3m) in 2016, according to PRWeek’s Global Agency Business Report, but under £2m of revenue in the UK. This will roughly double with Brighter's annual revenue also approaching £2m.

Peter Finn's target is for London to eventually account for nine per cent of global revenues exceeding $100m.

"Building our presence in London has been a top priority," said Finn. He said its London office now had around 50 staff, given the Brighter acquisition and 2017 acquisition of ABI.

Debbie Flynn established Brighter in 1995. Among the firm’s clients are Belize, Dubai, Intrepid Travel, Jordan, Korean Air and South African Tourism.

Flynn said: "After founding Brighter over 22 years ago and building it up to be one of the UK's most successful travel PR groups, I feel that a sale of the business to Finn Partners is in the best long-term interests of our valued clients and loyal staff. Finn Partners has expertise in areas such as digital and technology that will complement the Brighter Group and add more value to our clients."

Finn Partners’ biggest practices are technology and healthcare, but travel and tourism is close behind. In addition to London and New York, it has seven further US offices, three more in Europe, plus Jerusalem, Shanghai and Singapore.

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