M&K gets back independence

Retail communications consultancy M&K has regained its independence, after four years in quoted marketing group Birkdale.

The deal went live on Monday after shareholders accepted a 1.6m bid-with-trimmings for M&K and two stablemates, made by Birkdale chairman Kevin Morley.

Morley says the deal was for the three groups – public relations agency Leedex, marketing exhibition specialist TGA Chapmans and M&K – and does not value M&K independently.

“Wherever the opportunity arises [for these three groups] to work together that will be encouraged, but I will not force it down people’s throats,” says Morley.

The three groups will trade under the KMM group, chaired by Morley, who bought the consultancies outright.

Meanwhile, M&K chairman Paul King still has a stakeholding in Birkdale and Morley says further down the line the two of them “will share the burden of M&K ownership”.

“[Independence] should give us more freedom to progress, since we don’t have to be so shareholder focused. It marks a new stage for the group,” says M&K design director Astrid Martin.

King says Birkdale membership has had its downsides. “Our growth has been prohibited in the last two or three years by being wrapped up in the plc procedure,” he says.

Morley says he will make more money available: “M&K was under cash strain in the plc structure. But that has been alleviated. I am prepared to invest in the business as much as is needed.”

The group will move down the road in Hertford later this month to larger premises with new capital, and will look to expand its 20-strong workforce quite substantially.

King says it might not be long before the number reaches 30. He has been restructuring the consultancy in recent months in preparation for the acquisition.

M&K’s client list currently includes B&Q, The Boots Company, Woolworths, Alldays, Somerfield and Tesco.

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