Edelman merges Middle East and Africa arms, eyes West Africa expansion

Edelman is merging its Middle East and Africa operations, creating a combined entity with more than 200 employees across both regions.

Expanded roles: Omar Qirem (left) and Jordan Rittenberry
Expanded roles: Omar Qirem (left) and Jordan Rittenberry

Omar Qirem, chief executive of Edelman Middle East, and Jordan Rittenberry, his counterpart at Edelman Africa, will step into broader, more senior roles to lead the businesses as one operating entity.

Qirem will become chief strategy officer, Middle East and Africa, and Rittenberry will assume the role of chairman, Middle East and Africa. The pair will be equal partners in the combined entity and retain their CEO roles in their respective markets.

Edelman said: "These moves strengthen Edelman’s position as a leading pan-Middle East and Africa consultancy. There’s a vast number of fast-growing brands and companies, and a wealth of dynamic local talent in both markets. In recent years, the firm has experienced significant regional growth across its core business and integrated creative services."

Edelman boosted its offering in Africa early last year by acquiring Kenyan consultancy Gina Din Corporate Communications.

The company said in a statement to PRWeek today: "We have seen rapid expansion in Africa under Jordan’s leadership with the acquisition of the Gina Din Group in Kenya last year and we have plans to expand into West Africa soon."

Speaking to PRWeek shortly after, Edelman EMEA CEO and president Ed Williams said Nigeria would be the "natural" next location for the agency's expansion in Africa, with the continent presenting a "real opportunity". That followed revenue growth of 21.4 per cent in Africa in 2019, while in the Middle East it dipped from £16.7m to £14.1m.

Williams said today: “Connecting the dots between our Middle East and Africa businesses is a natural next step in our regional strategy to deepen integration and bring the best possible solutions to our clients’ business challenges. In both Jordan and Omar, we have energetic leaders who are embedded in their local markets and cultures. Together they are a powerful combination, and I am very excited about what they can do together for our clients and our firm.”

Qirem said: “This will bring the best of Edelman to both geographies, and help elevate communications capabilities for clients locally, regionally, and globally. We have a number of clients who are growing at an exponential rate, and this approach will bring together capabilities and specialties from two continents to create the best possible work for our clients."

Rittenberry said: “Our teams have been collaborating for some time, but this move creates the opportunity to best leverage strengths across the region, creating centres of excellence that can compete and win on a global level by combining our shared experience and expertise. With plans to expand into West Africa, we will bring together six offices that will play an increasingly important role in Edelman’s global strategy."

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