Independents fuel design sector mergers in early 2006

Mergers and acquisitions among independent design groups have kicked off with a bang in 2006, with two key deals completed since the first week of January.

Public sector design specialist the Limehouse Group acquired Synergy Communications on Monday in a cash and earn-out deal for an undisclosed sum. Meanwhile, last week, Oakwood DC acquired the assets of Bristol packaging group The Big Picture.

For Limehouse, the move values the combined turnover of the new-look group at £12m, according to Limehouse Group chairman Giles Welch.

Welch says Synergy will add an important digital design component to the group’s business, that has been lacking to date, as well as some important not-for-profit experience.

‘We are one of the biggest design groups specialising in public sector work, so the addition of Synergy Communications, with all its experience of the not-for-profit sector, should prove very complementary,’ says Welch.

Oakwood DC managing director Tony Marwick describes his venture as a ‘complex deal’ rather than an acquisition, which sees the assets and clients of The Big Picture transferred to Oakwood with immediate effect. Marwick adds that the consultancy remains acquisitive and would be in a position ‘to do a deal tomorrow, if the right group comes along’.

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