BGF completes £10m investment in one of the UK’s leading independent communications agencies

The UK’s sixth largest independent communications agency is preparing for significant expansion thanks to a £10m investment of equity finance from BGF (Business Growth Fund).

BGF has taken a minority stake in London-headquartered Four Communications (Four) which also has offices in Edinburgh, Abu Dhabi and Dubai and employs over 200 staff across its four offices. Four’s key services include public relations, public affairs, marketing, sponsorship, digital & content and media planning & buying with a particular focus on the property, travel, culture, healthcare, financial services and public sectors.

As part of the investment, the business has also secured an additional debt facility from HSBC.

Four has experienced rapid growth over the past four years, doubling turnover from £15m in 2010 to over £32m in 2014, a record-breaking year for the agency, and is expected to increase this again by over 20 per cent organically in its current financial year ending December 2015.

Four has won numerous industry awards including UK Agency of the Year, Middle East Agency of the Year, Best New Agency, the UK’s Best External Campaign and a top 50 UK Businesses to Watch Recognition, and is now the number six independent communications agency in the UK according to PR Week.

BGF’s £10m growth capital investment will support the company in making a number of acquisitions in the UK, Middle East and South East Asia. Over the past four years, Four has built a strong track record of acquiring and integrating communications agencies which offer complementary services to the group including bgb in 2011, Colman Getty in 2012, Kinross & Render in 2013, Consolidated PR in 2014 and most recently MSA Media in May 2015.

Founded in 2001, Four has over 600 clients across a number of sectors including Etihad Airways, The Man Booker Prizes, Sotheby’s International Realty, Intercontinental Hotels Group and Kinleigh Folkard and Hayward. Notable campaigns run by Four include UK Government PR Campaigns for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Cyber Streetwise, integrated & digital campaigns for The Wales Millennium Centre and Agatha Christie and marketing & media campaigns for St George.

To date, BGF has invested over £31m in the UK’s media and marketing sector backing companies including London-based Unruly Media, Broadbandchoices.co.uk, Abacus e-Media, The Exchange Lab, Zone and Leamington Spa-based Palmer Hargreaves.

Nan Williams, chief executive of Four Communications said:

“This is a very exciting time for our business. In the past few years we have seen significant organic and acquisitive growth. With BGF’s backing, we can take this to the next level in the UK and overseas.”

As part of the deal, BGF Investor Chris Hodges will join the Board of Four Communications. He said:

“Nan and her senior management team have a fantastic track record of delivering innovative communications services that are valued by Four’s diverse range of customers. Their ambition has driven organic growth in the business which has been enhanced by a series of strategic acquisitions that have expanded the range of services Four offers, grown its presence in dynamic market sectors such as travel, property and healthcare, and successfully established its international footprint. BGF is looking forward to supporting the team in delivering engaging creative work for Four’s clients and taking the business smoothly to the next level of scale.”

The investment was managed for BGF by Chris Hodges, George Tsangarides and Thomas McDonnell.