DraftWorldwide Adding More Agencies to UK Holdings

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OXFORD, UK - DraftWorldwide continued a frantic pace of expansion abroad this fall with the acquisition of one British agency in October and the expected purchase of another later this month.

It bought Symphony Direct Communications, a database marketing consultancy based here where Draft's UK headquarters is located, and is negotiating for the purchase of a London-based marketing research agency.

Symphony will be integrated into the Oxford operation while the new acquisition - still in the hands of the lawyers - will become part of the company's London office.

Earlier this year Draft bought Marketing Principles and DRS Advertising.

"Oxford will remain our UK headquarters but we are also building a significant presence in London," said Emma Stranack, the company's group marketing manager in the UK.

"We are also looking north to Scotland and may acquire an agency there, probably in Edinburgh, because the north of the UK is a different market."

As for Symphony, previously known as Database Marketing Services Ltd., it will bring Draft what Stranack called "enormous marketing technology including lists, data targeting, database cleansing and more complex profiling and segmentation abilities.

Symphony will form the core of Draft's Marketing Technologies division, which "currently consists of a number of senior consultants who are specialists in their field - data collection, modeling, segmentation and database design," Stranack said.

Chris Lovell, Draft's Group Managing Director in the UK, noted that clients "are looking for more effective data-driven marketing, and we are reacting to this need by expanding our capabilities to provide highly sophisticated profiling, targeting and analysis techniques."

Draft's UK operation has tripled this year and has grown to a staff of 80 and revenues of 18 million pounds ($28.8 million). Most of its business is done in the UK although it does have some pan-European capability. The European headquarters is in Paris.

The parent company has pursued an aggressive expansion strategy in Europe for the past three or four years. In 1998 it had 12 companies in Europe. Now it has 26 spread across 12 countries, and agency affiliations in three more.

It has also made a practice of buying and running as separate entities as many as five agencies in one country before beginning the process of integrating the various units into one network.
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