In December 2013, BGF invested £4m of growth capital in Palmer Hargreaves, a marketing and communications agency headquartered in Leamington Spa, with additional operations in China, Germany and Russia.
Palmer Hargreaves was established in 1984 by the current Chairman Andrew Clift, leveraging his strong relationship with Ford for whom he previously worked in sales and marketing. The company grew through a focus on the automotive aftersales market where it established itself as the European market leader and it has diversified in recent years to cover other sectors including agrichemicals, financial services and B2B services.
Palmer Hargreaves focuses on large organisations with complex marketing needs and multi-national/multi-lingual deployment requirements. Clients include Ford, Bayer, Mercedes Benz, Jaguar Land Rover, General Motors, Audi, Volkswagen, Mazda, Continental Tyres and BMW.
The company employs nearly 50 people at its offices in Leamington Spa.
BGF’s £4m growth capital investment is supporting the company’s acquisition-led growth. Palmer Hargreaves completed the acquisition of German IT and telecommunications communications business PR Partners in October 2013, expanding its range of complementary services and clients. BGF’s investment is providing growth capital for acquisitions in the UK and Germany and has enabled the business to expand its international presence, opening a new office in Shanghai in December 2014. Palmer Hargreaves was then appointed as Porsche China’s lead Aftersales Marketing & Communications Agency under a two-year contract, with a number of significant projects underway.
The new office is based in the heart of Shanghai and has now appointed Coaching and Consultancy Director, Mark O’Flaherty.
Mark, is based locally, has 20 years’ experience in Global Automotive Aftersales across over 15 vehicle manufacturer brands, including Fiat, Ford, Volvo, JLR, BMW,
THE EXCHANGE LAB
BGF provided £5m of growth capital to The Exchange Lab in November 2013.
The business, co-founded by entrepreneurs James Aitken and Tim Webster, delivers digital advertising campaigns across display, video, social media and mobile channels, evaluating a billion audience interactions daily. Its proprietary plaform, Proteus, provides advertisers and brands with visibility across twelve DSPs, enabling them to access unrivalled volumes of digital inventory at lowest cost.
The company invested BGF’s capital in Proteus, integrating an additional eight Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) and boosting campaign automation by developing advanced APIs. It also embarked on a focused sales strategy in North America, delivering top line growth and demonstrating commercial scale on the Proteus platform.
In December 2015, BGF successfully exited its investment in the firm, following its acquisition by WPP for an undisclosed sum. The Exchange Lab’s people and technology are now being integrated into WPP’s GroupM.
This was second high-profile ‘scale-up’ exit for BGF in the technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) sector following the acquisition of Unruly by Newscorp in September 2012.
Chris Hodges, an investor at BGF, oversaw BGF’s initial investment in The Exchange Lab and served as BGF’s non-executive director on the board of the company.