Velocity and MarketMakers acquired as demand for B2B agencies rockets

Two of the biggest name agencies in B2B marketing in the UK have been acquired in the past few days, with telemarketing firm MarketMakers purchased by Centaur last week, and creative agency Velocity Partners having been snapped up by Next15 this week. 

These deals follow a relatively quiet period for acquisitions of British B2B agencies, following the high-profile multi-million pound purchase of DNX by Ogilvy back in 2014, and demonstrates a renewal of interest in the sector. The value of the Velocity deal is £5.9 million, while MarketMakers and Really B2B sold for £13.4 million. The latter is part of a complex deal by Marketing Week publisher Centaur which also involved the offloading of its consumer interiors division to Future Publishing. Centaur’s decision, together with its acquisition last year of Oystercatchers, suggests it may be planning to build a volume lead gen business, integrating various disparate operations.

Dave Stevens, chair of the B2B industry trade body the BMC (Business Marketing Club), and CMO of British Land, commented: "These two big pieces of news in the B2B marketing world show just what a changing environment we operate in, where digital and intelligence functions aren't just nice-to-have but essential parts of a marketing offering. It's great to see some of our best marketing agencies recognised for the value that they add to the marketplace."

Velocity is a multi award-winning creative agency based in Richmond upon Thames, and is led by Stan Woods and creative director Doug Kessler, who was recently a keynote speaker at B2B Marketing Ignite, and an increasingly globally renowned speaker on B2B creativity and copywriting.

Woods was previously involved in the purchase of APlus PR agency by Broedeur Worldwide in the 1990s. In the B2B Marketing Agencies Benchmarking Report 2017 Velocity was the 19th largest player, with gross income of £5.4 million and a staff of 40. It has now been acquired by AIM (Alternative Investment Market)-listed marketing services group Next15, which also owns B2B tech specialist Twogether, Bite PR, ABM platform Agent3 and investor relations specialist The Blueshirt Group.

Kessler said: “We aren’t going to rush at our clients, trying to force new services down their throats. That’s not how we work, not how the group works and there’s no incentive to do it. But we will be able to bring in experts to seize real opportunities to help our clients slam-dunk their goals.”

MarketMakers and Really B2B are based in Portsmouth, with 315 staff and revenues of £11.4 million - the former specialising in telemarketing, and the latter on more integrated campaigns. They were established by Paul Thomas and Henry Braithwaite, who built them into a B2B specialist marketing group, alongside IP lookup tech pioneer Lead Forensics, which is not part of this deal.

Henry Braithwaite, MD of MarketMakers, said: “We have grown steadily since our launch in 2004 with ambitious, future-facing clients looking to us for access to a wider group of services to accelerate their growth. We see Centaur Media as a like-minded partner with innovation, data and creativity at its core."