Hanbury Strategy in radical restructure to woo investors

Hanbury Strategy has split its three divisions – public affairs and comms, policy and research, and political technology – into separate companies in an attempt to attract future investors, its co-founder has told PRWeek.

James Kanagasooriam is chief executive of Hanbury's demerged political-tech capability, Stack Data Strategy
James Kanagasooriam is chief executive of Hanbury's demerged political-tech capability, Stack Data Strategy

Hanbury announced the establishment of political-tech company Stack Data Strategy last week – the second of two new trading brands set up since last month which are separate companies, but currently owned by Hanbury.

The first, Forefront Advisers, is focused on political risk and policy research. It was set up last month, and is led by Gergely Polner and James McBride.

Run by former Hanbury Strategy partner James Kanagasooriam, Stack Data Strategy represents the polling and analytical expertise that used to be within Hanbury.

Stack will “work with think tanks to write cutting-edge reports, help companies track public attitudes to products and services, and develop campaign strategies for political parties and tech companies”, according to its website.

Kanagasooriam commented: “By building on techniques from the worlds of computer science, artificial intelligence and econometrics, Stack will break new ground in delivering insight using polling data and focus groups."

He added: “Stack's goal is to create truly novel solutions to measuring and modelling public opinion, and to understand what the strategic response should be."

Future plans

The demerger of divisions from Hanbury is part of a long-term plan to make its various individual functions more attractive to investors by turning them into specialist shops rather than contained within one agency.

Stack is planning to raise money from global investors as it looks to scale globally in the coming years, according to Hanbury.

Paul Stephenson, co-founder of Hanbury Strategy, told PRWeek: “We are extremely excited about the launch of Forefront and Stack. Over time we have developed three quite distinct businesses, all with different needs and client bases, so it makes sense to launch them as new companies.”

He added: “In particular, as Stack looks to scale globally it will look to raise money from investors who probably would not want to invest in a communications and public affairs agency at the same time.”

Hanbury will continue to focus on comms and public affairs and is increasingly focused on European expansion.

The agency, which was founded in 2016, reported revenue of more than £5.5m in 2019 – up 60 per cent on the previous year.

According to the company’s latest accounts, it is seeking to “develop its market position in Europe” and in March 2020 it “set up a Belgium subsidiary with its operations based in the business hub of Brussels”.

However, the agency's success has not been without controversy.

Last year the agency, which has close links with the Prime Minister and other senior Goverment figures, benefited from lucrative Government contracts worth £650,000 without a competitive tender, via emergency provisions during the COVID-19 crisis.

This came just months after the agency had been the focus of a row over ethics when it emerged it had been appointed by Downing Street to recruit a new generation of special advisers in Whitehall.

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