Four said its acquisition of specialist agency Marmelo, based in Shoreditch, London, is a boost to its senior digital leadership and “heavyweight in-house UX, design and development skills”.
The deal will “strengthen Four’s PACE (performance, activation, creative and engagement) business unit, which includes a team of 80 digital technologists, marketers, planners and creatives”, it said.
Marmelo’s four-strong team will add to Four’s existing digital teams in London, Cardiff and Dubai.
Founded by co-directors Luke Alexander and Dr Abhinav Bajpai in 2015, Marmelo has created UX-driven websites and mobile apps for the NHS, the Ethical Property Company and Red Bull.
It has also provided consultancy and product development for the Department for Transport, Nesta and Tesco; as well as one-off solutions in VR, computer vision and embedded technologies with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Twitter and The Old Vic theatre.
Marmelo’s team will be based at Four’s new HQ at The Hickman, Whitechapel. Alexander will become Four’s first chief digital officer, while Bajpai will become Four’s head of digital technology. Both will report to Paul Dalton-Borge, who leads Four’s PACE unit.
Alexander said: “As digital technologies mature – and following the sudden pivot to online ways of working in the past two years – we’re seeing a huge demand for digital transformation both in marketing and communications and at an organisational level. There couldn’t be a better time to bring our skills to Four, where we can use our expertise and creativity to make a real difference.”
And Dalton-Borge commented: “Our clients have enjoyed the benefits of Four’s proactive embrace of digital over the past decade and digital capabilities are at the heart of our strategy for the next 10 years. This investment represents the next step in that journey and takes us to a level of in-house expertise normally only offered by pure-play digital agencies.”
Einir Williams, Four’s managing director, said: “This transaction marks a milestone in Four’s history with the first acquisition of a company founded by a former employee of the agency. Luke began his career as a graduate trainee at Four exactly 15 years ago to the day of acquisition. We have also worked closely with Abhinav and Kerry over the years and it is great to have them all back in the fold.”
The acquisition is the 10th by Four since it secured £10m in equity finance from the Business Growth Fund in 2015.