Top 150 - 2005: Profiles

Bell Pottinger won some high-profile business accounts in 2004, such as Rio Tinto.


A year of upheaval at August.One saw its 20-strong Microsoft team split off and merge with sister agency Inferno. This contributed to a 15 per cent drop in fee income, from £4.6m to £3.9m, but left a streamlined team to build a new type of agency.

'We've had a year of evaluation,' says MD Sophie Brooks. 'Microsoft has been with us for 22 years, and is a very large-scale, demanding account with a specific set of skills. Now we can focus on a different strategy.'

Brooks has built a new management team, which includes Sally Hetherington, Amanda Fenner, Clare Wall and Sarah MacKenzie. Director Sarah Howe is running the new advocacy practice, and Matt Bretherton now heads Ink, the agency's design and copywriting arm.

The agency has heavily promoted its Web of Influence offer. 'It's gone down well with clients,' says Brooks. 'Media is no longer the primary influence on buying decisions. It moves PR closer to sales, and is more powerful than straight media relations.'

The agency is now focused on public sector, food and drink, lifestyle, professional services and utilities, including work for the Make a Difference Group and government-funded best practice scheme Envirowise. Other client wins included Mothercare, Olympus, More Than and a place on the DfES roster.

The agency lost its place on the COI roster and split with Casio and eBay, which were inherited from acquisition Joe Public Relations.


Parent company Chime's refinancing deal, which it was forced into in early 2003 after slumping to a loss of £42m, saw its PR interests start 2004 on a sombre note. However, the first quarter of the year marked a change in fortunes with high-profile business wins, the most notable of which was for The Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.

Chime chairman Lord Bell says: 'The biggest boost to our ego was the appointment in Iraq. And the market returning to growth meant we got our self-confidence back, after three years in a downturn.'

Last year saw several impressive account wins. QBO Bell Pottinger won a £500,000 brief from tyre firm Bridgestone; mining giant Rio Tinto called in Bell Pottinger Public Affairs for UK lobbying; and The Equal Opportunities Commission hired QBO Bell Pottinger to raise awareness of discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace. But the corporate and financial sectors proved 'difficult', admits Bell.

Departures included a 15-year P&O account that Bell Pottinger Corporate & Financial lost to Brunswick. It also parted with director of ten years John Coles, who left to join Weber Shandwick Square Mile, as did director Jeff Watt. Director Charlotte Lambkin quit to join BAE, and directors Katya Reynier and Tim Grey left to set up on their own. Overall, Bell says head count only grew by four across the entire PR group of interests: 'We held the cost base all through 2004 and have only started investing in 2005.'

THE BIG PARTNERSHIP - 26 - £3,324,715

Formed in 2000 by Alex Barr, Neil Gibson and Graham Isdale, Glasgow-led The Big Partnership, increased fee income by 61 per to more than £3m last year.

'We've continued to grow in our Scottish heartland and to win a number of national campaigns,' says Isdale. In 2004, UK-wide activity included licensing campaigns for Celador Radio Broadcasting, plus work for Coors Brewing Company and house builder Gladedale.

Part of the firm's performance was driven by the purchase of Scotland's third largest independent PR agency Catchline Communications, last August.

As a result, Big added marcoms, corporate publishing, design and event management capabilities to its armoury. The acquisition also brought new clients, including BT, the Scottish Prison Service and Forth Ports, while former Catchline MD Pamela Caira joined the main board.

Last year, Big's consumer arm attracted a number of new clients. These included De Vere Resort Ownership on a brief to promote a £50m development at Loch Lomond. The North of Scotland operation expandsed business with clients including Aberdeen FC. Clients such as ScottishPower, Deloitte, National Semiconductor and port operator Clydeport remain its core business, while the Scottish Executive appointed Big to its first ever PR agency roster.

In 2005, Big recruited Arvind Salwan from Barkers Scotland as director of strategic projects. According to Isdale: 'We're now an integrated services agency and our objective is to become a truly national UK agency.'

Chandler Chicco Agency's organic growth helped to boost income by 35 per cent

CHANDLER CHICCO AGENCY - 27 - £3,307,868 - New Entry

Having sat out last year's table to see how Sarbanes-Oxley would affect listings, healthcare specialist Chandler Chicco Agency (CCA) is back, with a 35 per cent rise in annual fee income.

According to MD Jennie Talman, around 80 per cent of this growth came from existing clients, while Merck KGaA became the firm's biggest new client, awarding a global project for its colon cancer treatment Erbitux last January. Highlights included winning a global brief for Belgium firm UCB's epilepsy drug Keppra and pre-launch comms for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder brand Equasym XL from biotech firm Celltech, which has since merged with UCB.

This February, the firm also picked up a global contract to promote a potential blockbuster smoking-cessation drug from Pfizer.

Over the year, AstraZeneca expanded business with the agency, increasing work on breast cancer drug Arimidex. However, the agency has also had to deal with UK fallout from the US Food and Drug Administration's decision to refuse approval for AZ's oral anticoagulant treatment Exanta, over safety and effectiveness worries.

Nevertheless, according to Talman, the main focus for the past 16 months has been the agency's people and services. 'We identified two key strengths that we wanted to build on: recognising the talent of staff and delivering innovation and insight-driven campaigns,' she says.

The agency has also revamped its training and appraisal systems and appointed its first HR manager, Sam Leaning. For clients, the firm has launched three products: a research tool that focuses on the over-50s; Stage Right, a theatre-based learning scheme for medical professionals; and 360 deg Doctor, a training product for medical advocates.

There are further plans to launch specialist services groups across areas, including medical education, consumer health and OTC.

EHPR - 54 - £1,881,599

With a fee income drop of seven per cent, EHPR - a Huntsworth Group agency of more than two years - had a disappointing 2004. No surprise, perhaps, considering that it was all change at the top.

Former deputy managing director Leigh-ann Wilson quit, while in August, Diane McCulloch joined from US PR agency Magnet to take up the new role of managing director.

Moreover, this January, 23 years after establishing the agency and following a period of illness, Elizabeth Hindmarch stepped down as chief executive to become a non-executive director of the company.

Having built a reputation in home and beauty, last year the Windsor and London-based firm confirmed its move towards a full-service brand offering.

In January, the agency picked up the trade and consumer account for ICI's Cuprinol, Dulux Woodfinishes, Hammerite and Polycell brands, while other wins included Vidal Sassoon's salon business and spa chain re-aqua. However, EHPR also expanded its entertainment practice, which includes Universal, to include games manufacturer Re:creation.

Comet, which has been a client of the agency for more than ten years, remains a core client, as does upmarket white goods manufacturer Miele. However, the agency is increasingly taking on CSR and cause-related marketing initiatives for its long-standing clients.

In 2004, this included an internet safety campaign for Comet, in conjunction with children's charity NCH, a regional road show for Miele and Fashion Targets Breast Cancer. Meanwhile, last month, the agency targeted consumer, beauty and trade titles in order to promote Wella's involvement with Comic Relief's Red Nose Day.

While as yet unable to disclose what new business EHPR has picked up in 2005, McCulloch says: 'We've had a good start to the year with a number of wins across a number of areas.' She adds: 'Our plans are just to continue building on what we've got, which is a very stable team and a wide portfolio of brands.'

EXPOSURE - 33 - £2,892,456 - New Entry

Exposure joint MD and founder Raoul Shah says last year marked one of the biggest swings in marketing expenditure away from 'traditional ways of communicating' towards PR, in recent years. This was the driving factor behind a 25 per cent rise in PR fee income, he says.

'PR continued to rise in fee income as more brands looked to add more non-advertising forms of communication to the mix,' adds Shah.

His agency is in a position to observe such market fluctuations, because in addition to PR, the agency's business covers design, events and sales promotion, with other parts divided between strategic brand consultancy and new product development.

Important PR client wins included two Interbrew brands: a UK consumer PR brief for Australian lager brand Castlemaine XXXX and for premium lager brand Stella Artois. Two Imperial Tobacco brands joined the portfolio, with campaigns for Davidoff and Rizla. Fashion giant DKNY handed its Active Footwear and menswear PR accounts to Exposure, while lingerie brand Agent Provocateur charged the firm with a brand-building brief including brand collaboration work.

Exposure's PR teams also increased head count, with Sophie Brown and Erin Hurst joining the company as account directors, while Nina Bautista and Chris Seymour were recruited as senior account managers. Two further account managers and two account executives were also added to meet demand from the increase in business.

But the year was not entirely free from staff issues, as Los Angeles joint CEOs Chris Stephenson and Pat Devereux walked out at the end of last year, leading the company to seek legal advice.

However, Shah reports an unexpectedly strong start to this year. 'We have won some significant pan-European work with Levi's and some projects for Land Rover,' he says.

Four Communications ventured into new sectors, including tech and consumer

FOCUS PR - 113 - £913,132

With the loss of two major clients, consumer specialist Focus PR saw fee income slide by 17 per cent to under £1m.

After a five-year relationship with the agency, clothing brand Lacoste moved its business to specialist fashion shop Modus Publicity, while Italian beer company Peroni was taken over by SAB-Miller and terminated all agency contracts.

'Our ongoing core client budgets also remained static,' says Focus managing director Hilary Meacham.

Nevertheless, the agency saw growth from its big consumer brand clients, including Piaggio scooters and Cadbury Dairy Milk. In addition, The Unwins Wine Group put a new retail concept, Phillips Newman, the company's way.

By the end of the year, new business took off. Most significantly, Allied Domecq appointed the agency to handle a six-figure consumer PR brief for its portfolio of premium still and sparkling wines, which include Campo Viejo. This was swiftly followed by wins from events firm Clarion Retail and an appointment to promote Ceramic Art London 2005.

The upswing has continued this year, with Wines of Argentina hiring the agency to strengthen its presence in the UK with both trade and consumers.

And, as Focus finalises arrangements for a product launch from Cadbury Dairy Milk, the company is keen to build its food and drink business further.

'Initially, we'll probably go after soft drinks and mineral waters, because that's where we have an obvious track record,' says Meacham.

Staff numbers have remained static, but the mix has changed to embrace more senior consultants.

FOUR COMMUNICATIONS - 30 - £3,166,591

The year 2004 has seen a banner performance from Four Communications, with fee income rising by 73 per cent, breaking the £3m mark for the first time.

The agency has been expanding swiftly. It created a holding group by merging shareholdings with digital design and marcoms start-up Gritti in May and, as Four managing partner Nan Williams points out: 'If we included Gritti in Four's PR fees, we would probably top £5m.'

Williams's explanation for the firm's strong growth is prosaic: 'It was just more of the same - we hired people who eventually attracted clients they used to work for, and continued to have a good hit rate in competitive pitches,' she says.

Four also made inroads in new sectors in 2004. The agency hired Steve Gebbett at the end of 2003 as head of consumer, allowing the company to boost its presence to the extent that fee income for that practice alone is now around £750,000.

And in June, the agency hired Phil Ryan to head up its new tech practice, which swiftly led to work for Fujitsu Siemens and a pan-European brief to create PR collaterals for PlayStation Europe Software, the games division of Sony.

The company now has 37 members of staff, having increased its numbers from 26 to 33 last year.

At the end of the year, Alun James was hired as head of a new sports and sponsorship unit, while Joanna Marchant is the new managing director, healthcare - two new practice areas that Williams says will have an impact in 2005.

'From day one, we have always wanted to be an independent competitor to all the major agencies. That's why we have continued to add new practice areas, and will do so until we offer the full service, with the exception of City PR,' says Williams.

Its biggest growth areas last year were financial and professional services, public affairs and consumer.

This year kicked off with the opening of the company's first international office in Dubai, headed by Four MD, Middle East, David Baker.

FREUD COMMUNICATIONS - 5 - £9,564,982 - New Entry

Freud Communications boosted income by 24 per cent last year, a great performance for a firm celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2005 and entering its fourth year of business since the MBO.

Most of the growth has come from increasing revenue from existing clients such as Nestle Rowntree and Pepsi, says Freuds vice-chairman Kris Thykier.

This trend continued in the public sector, with the firm making it on to the COI roster for the first time, after working on projects for Visit London and converting the account to retainer business.

Thykier says that one of the key developments within the culture of the agency last year was creative parity with other marketing disciplines used on brands. 'Increasingly, we're becoming the lead creative agency with some of our clients - we have creative equality in that we're sitting at the table with the direct marketing and advertising agencies and, in some cases, taking the lead role.' This, says Thykier, has led to a commensurate rise in fees.

The most important hire of the year was Fiona Noble, who joined from Hill & Knowlton where she was MD, marcoms, to become MD at Freuds in October.

Head count across the agency has grown, with some key hires. In August, Adam Mack joined from Porter Novelli to become senior planner, as did Claire Curran, who was named head of partnership marketing and Caroline Wray, who was named associate board director of the consumer practice.

In November, David Fine joined as associate board director, consumer, followed by new associate director Lisa Jedan joining the corporate division.

This division has been Freuds strongest sector, says Thykier, breaking with its image as a showbiz firm representing mainly entertainment clients.

Its biggest wins have been Kimberly-Clark Kleenex For Men, Prada Group, Sony Pictures and Talk Talk, the fixed line business owned by Carphone Warehouse. Its biggest loss was video game maker Electronic Arts.

The ongoing obesity debate has led to increased public affairs work for Grayling


Golley Slater Public Relations acquired NP in February 2004, which largely accounted for its 62 per cent boost in income. But two years after group chief executive Chris Lovell acquired the business, he says the PR side of the company is now more productive than before.

'The PR business seemed to have less focus than the advertising side, so we started to put all the basic procedures in place to allow them (the PR division) to succeed,' says Lovell.

Recruitment at the junior level has been a major focus during 2004, but senior posts were appointed in-house as part of a policy of investing in its home-grown talent, he adds.

'We invested £500,000 in training and development last year across the group. PR is about a third of our business, so for our size that's a sizeable investment,' he adds.

Prior to the acquisition of NP, the group had 43 staff. Since then, the agency has grown to more than 80 staff, with around 80 per cent of this growth coming from NP staff.

The agency's strongest sectors are not only in its traditional B2B markets, particularly the construction sector, but also in the public sector where its London and Cardiff offices boosted revenues.

One of its most notable wins was a brief from Meat Promotion Wales to promote sales of Welsh meat-based foods.

But after launching a new service station in Birmingham for Road Chef, the client cut its ties with the agency, losing 'quite a large client' for the company.

Lovell says that Golley Slater has further acquisition plans in PR this year and is currently in dialogue. 'We are hopeful of a deal before the end of the year, but we shall see,' he adds.

GRAYLING - 8 - £6,854,700 - New Entry

For the past three years, Grayling has been unable to supply data to PRWeek as a result of the Sarbanes Oxley Act. However, having been acquired from Havas by Huntsworth Group in March 2004, the company is now able to share fee income data, although there is no recent data with which to compare performance.

Grayling Group chief executive Nigel Kennedy says the Huntsworth acquisition has gone smoothly and even helped it to secure new business. For example, the agency won public affairs work for food giant Heinz in Brussels shortly after the deal. This was because of a recommendation by fellow Huntsworth company Counsel PR in the UK.

The agency also managed to win a clutch of important new clients of its own during the year. In June, Centrica Business Services hired Grayling to promote its telecoms service, while charity The Health Foundation appointed Grayling Political Strategy (GPS) for public affairs support. GPS also went on to win work for RoadChef, covering a wide-ranging brief surrounding the Highway Agency's regulation of motorway service stations.

But its core corporate, B2B, public affairs and events management businesses had a mixed year. Kennedy says the public sector was a strong source of business in terms of events and PR, while knowledge in the food sector 'has grown considerably during the year' with the obesity debate providing a glut of public affairs work for OTC health and health-related clients. However, less growth was achieved in ethical healthcare.

Key UK hires during the year included Tanya Joseph, a former Downing Street press officer before being named a Grayling director, and the deputy PM's son David Prescott, who left the editorship of the BBC's Look North to become an account director in October.

Departures included John Macgill, head of the agency's Edinburgh office, in January this year to become chief executive of publisher Holyrood.

HILL & KNOWLTON - £22,306,000 (CH, Year End 31/12/03)

While Hill & Knowlton grew during 2004, particularly in the areas of corporate communications, healthcare and consumer technology, marketing communications continues to be a challenging area, according to director Richard Millar.

'Client spend was more focused on promotional activity to drive sales as consumer confidence and retail sales slowed, so there were fewer marcoms opportunities,' he says.

The agency had organic growth from clients that included AstraZeneca, Merck and Procter & Gamble, and the big win of the year was work for the 2012 Olympic bid for London.

The most significant loss was Kellogg's consumer business, although H&K still manages public affairs work for the cereal giant in the UK and Europe.

H&K chairman David McLaren retired during the year, and several senior appointments were made, including a number of "boomerangs" who have worked for the agency in the past. These include Millar, who spent eight years in-house at Habitat.

Giles Morgan joined Millar back in the fold as head of sports marketing and sponsorship, replacing Alun James when he left to join Four. Nicola Ilet also returned to head up healthcare.

Other senior hires included England and Wales Cricket Board director of communications John Read; Rod Cartwright, who joined public affairs from GCI; and James Barbour, who joined from the Foreign Office.

'Clients are looking for more senior counsel in all practice areas, and our recruitment strategy has been to get the best people we can find, often with wider experience than agency PR,' says Millar. 'We're now well equipped for this year.'

H&K will be launching a new 'diversity' offer later in the year, in recognition that mass-market brands need to reach niche markets and audiences. 'One of my rallying cries is that clients are increasingly channel or discipline-neutral, and are looking for flexible communications solutions,' says Millar.

Despite fewer M&As, M: Communications managed to break the £4m barrier.

M: COMMUNICATIONS - 16 - £4,223,583

In only its second full year of operation, financial and corporate PR specialist M: Communications has increased fee income by 38 per cent to exceed the £4m mark.

Agency co-founder Nick Miles highlights that this performance reflects a doubling in staff numbers between September 2003 and March 2004, with recruits bringing in their own new business. He adds: 'We have quite a complicated proposition that takes time to prove and accept. But in 2004, we showed that it works.'

Despite a subdued international M&A scene last year, the agency handled its fair share of big deals. These included Carlsberg's purchase of the remaining 40 per cent stake in its business from Norway's Orkla and cash shell Melrose's hostile bid for conglomerate Novar.

The firm also worked on a number of major IPOs for clients including Belgian telecoms firm Belgacom, French life science specialist Biomereux and UK capital markets technology provider Dealogic.

Key hires in the past year include the one-time managing director of Citigate Dewe Rogerson Kevin Soady, and former BNP Paribas head of pan-European equity research Joanna Darlington. Furthermore, the agency established a campaigns team headed by Stuart Leasor and Tom Hampson. This duo has worked with the British Casino Association and led an investor activist campaign against Shell on the issue of corporate governance. Last September, however, UBS Investment Bank dropped the agency as its retained PR adviser. But having established a strong presence in Scandinavia and France, it is currently targeting Italy, while business in Russia is on the up.

In 2005, the agency plans to develop sector specialisms, with moves to strengthen its crisis PR and financial services. 'We'll be building our areas of expertise by making small-scale acquisitions of people and firms. If we can't hire them, we'll buy them,' says Miles.

MEDIA STRATEGY - 55 - £1,736,135

At number two in PRWeek's top performers over the last five years' table, corporate and government relations specialist Media Strategy hit the accelerator in 2004 and increased fee income by an impressive 88 per cent.

Explaining this stellar performance, managing director Charles Lewington says: 'We have a growing reputation that has led to more referrals.

'We've seen strong fee growth from existing clients, coupled with low client churn, and the advisory board - which we established two years ago - has helped us to gain access to leading business decision makers.'

This latter initiative has seen figures such as GlaxoSmithKline chairman Sir Christopher Gent, chair of the Press Complaints Committee Sir Christopher Meyer and head of the No 10 Policy Unit Matthew Taylor speak at events hosted by the company.

New business wins accounted for around 60 per cent of additional fee income, with retained clients increasing from 12 to 19. Significant additions included the Society of British Aerospace Companies, the House Builders Federation, the NHS Sickle Cell Screening Programme and digital channel Teachers' TV. The agency also won significant projects from the Audit Commission, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, and Unilever.

Meanwhile existing clients, including hospital services provider CAPIO and Russian information agency RIA-Novato, put more work the agency's way.

In line with performance, staff numbers have risen from 12 to 22 with, among others, Aide Killen, formerly of the Association of British Health Industries, and Robert Sullivan, one-time adviser to Michael Howard, joining as senior consultants.

Earlier this year, the agency took on Scott Learmouth to drive its new business engine and hired Richard Emmett, former corporate affairs director at Royal & SunAlliance, to fire up a move into utilities.

PENROSE FINANCIAL - 35 - £2,586,763

Like many in the financial and capital market sector, Penrose Financial experienced a turning point in 2004, as reflected in its eight per cent rise in fee income.

'The industry picked up, we became more established and a better name in the marketplace. In addition, rather than just the founding partners bringing in new business, we saw the development of our next level of people,' says deputy managing director Andrew Nicolls.

Fortunes improved in the second half of the year, with Sanlam Financial Services appointing the company to handle PR for its five subsidiary companies.

Other big wins included fund manager Sagitta Asset Management and FTSE 250 fund investor SVG Capital, on a brief to handle financial calendar work, corporate comms and PR.

Last spring, the firm set up a joint venture with Paris-based corporate and financial comms specialist HDL Communications to facilitate more international work in London and better service the agency's French clients, which include AXA Investment Managers.

Meanwhile, the business has restructured away from its former four service divisions to encompass client groups. Staff numbers have increased by six over the past 12 months, with Mani Pillai joining as associate director from Grandfield, while this January the agency brought Emma Thorpe from Weber Shandwick Square Mile to its capital markets team. But last November, after more than six years with the business, founding partner Louise Hatch quit, following what Nicolls describes as 'board disagreements'.

In 2005, the financial technology and private equity sectors are proving buoyant for the firm, with 12 new clients joining to date, including Capital Dynamics, Kleinwort Capital, virtual stock market virt-X and bond trading platform MarketAxess.

According to Nicolls, the company is looking for even greater growth this year. 'We're also looking to expand into other financial markets, such as insurance,' he says.

Coca-Cola's UK corporate and trade account was a big win for Weber Shandwick

PORTER NOVELLI - £11,447,519 (CH, Year End 31/12/03)

It was the year Porter Novelli finally said goodbye to its Countrywide prefix, as the 30-year-old UK firm was aligned with the global brand. PN pushed its own marketing in 2004 to differentiate its brand after the change. The 'Who are you/we?' campaign challenged conventional views of PR and got the agency on so many pitch lists that it was turning away new business.

Former MD Fiona Joyce, who stepped down earlier this month to pursue a client-facing role, says the focus was on breaking free from short-term delivery: 'We set out to challenge the tactical media relations dependency that led to procurement-led decision-making rather than strategic innovation'.

Healthcare, technology and consumer were growth areas, and wins included the DTI Renewables campaign and a consumer brand engagement scheme for British Airways. There weren't many big client losses, although PN said goodbye to Paramount after 12 years.

Joyce says: 'This gave us a wake-up call on constant innovation through senior involvement, no matter how well the day-to-day team is delivering against the programme objectives.'

PN hires include European healthcare practice leader Lee Tomkins, consumer director Lucy Melling, healthcare director Rebecca Hunt and ex-BBC and Sky broadcaster Ben McCarthy as head of media relations. Joyce took personal leadership of senior client counsel and is involved day-to-day with clients including the NHS, who gave the agency one of its biggest wins. She hopes 2005 will be important for PR. 'Brands, businesses and causes need to engage through real interaction, personalised experience and entertainment.'

SHINE COMMUNICATIONS - 44 - £2,089,462

Shine has had another good year, with 16 per cent growth against a target of 15 per cent, giving it a fee income of £2,089,462. Staff numbers went up from 25 to 35, and the agency does not plan on stopping there: it is in fifth position of the top performers over five years, having increased fee income by 117 per cent since 2000 and it's already on track to meet a 2005 target of 40 per cent growth.

One of the challenges for such rapid growth is careful management, and deputy MD Erika Hendrick says that Shine has started to put in place more rigorous management processes focused on resource planning and forecasting.

The board has been extended with the promotion of Mitchell Kaye and Greg Jones, and journalist David Hall has been hired as media content and campaigns manager, in recognition of a renewed energy and title launches on newsstands.

The agency has also improved its relationship management processes, introduced its ERIC evaluation model to keep clients happy, and is continuing the investment in training and rewarding staff.

This steady hand on the tiller means that even moving so fast, Shine had a client retention rate of 90 per cent during the year, and has not lost a single client since introducing the new management and evaluation systems.

Organic growth stands at 20 per cent, with wins from a clutch of sexy brands, including Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Channel 4, EA Games, Heinz, Sara Lee, the Football League and Jacob's. Shine parted company with Timberland, but replaced it with competitor Rockport, and only lost Filofax and Polaroid when they went in-house.

Shine claims to have a 99 per cent success rate of converting credentials to pitches, and won 38 of 44 pitches last year. The focus for 2005 will be on keeping the culture of the company intact through an intense period of growth.

WEBER SHANDWICK - £18,268,127 (CH, Year End 31/12/03)

Weber Shandwick's year was typified by attracting high-profile, high-calibre clients and people, not least the hiring of former Sun editor David Yelland, who has 'taken to PR like a duck to water,' according to UK chief executive Colin Byrne.

'At the time, PRWeek said that hiring Yelland as senior vice-chairman was an audacious move and that it was a big risk, but we have broken new ground by hiring not just a good journalist, but a major contemporary editor at the height of his career,' adds Byrne.

Yelland's first coup was luring Wembley construction company Multiplex away from Bell Pottinger, but the crowning glory of 2004 was WS winning Coca-Cola's UK corporate and trade business - a personal goal for Byrne for six years.

The agency was disappointed not to win BA, which went to Porter Novelli, but other noteworthy wins were Electronic Arts in technology, Fournier in healthcare, Royal Bank of Canada in finance and General Mills in consumer.

Throughout 2004, the company continued its strategy of getting its agencies outside London and its specialist practices, from public affairs to consumer, to collaborate on client work without imposing a homogenous WS culture.

Malcolm Gooderham joined as director of the corporate practice from Bell Pottinger, and Lynn McCarthy joined from Hill & Knowlton as consumer marketing director. Fiona Hall was brought on board from WPP to manage European healthcare, and ex-CNBC anchor Nigel Roberts now leads the broadcast practice.

The agency also appointed Brendan May from the Marine Stewardship Council as its first dedicated head of CSR, and D-J Collins, head of news and strategic planning at the Department for Education and Skills, joined as director of corporate and public affairs.

Healthcare and consumer were the major growth areas, and Byrne says the agency plans to build a consumer healthcare specialism to complement its current ethical focus. Organic growth has also come from WS working more closely with its sister marketing service companies, including McCann Erickson, FutureBrand and sports sponsorship agency Octagon.

- The Big Partnership's acquisition of Catchline Communications helped to boost its fee income

- This year has already started well for Exposure, with pan-European work from Levi's

- Corporate PR has become Freud's strongest sector, breaking with its image as solely a showbiz firm

- Hill & Knowlton lost the Kellogg's consumer account, but had a big win with work for London 2012 Olympic bid

- More than half of Media Strategy's fee income increase is attributed to new business wins

- Shine had an 86 per cent success rate at pitch conversion over the last year.

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