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Communisis buys integrated agency Life for £23m

One of the more interesting trends in adland in recent years has been the growth of what were once called production agencies; most notably Tag (now owned by Deutsche Post subsidiary Williams Lea), Oliver, which places in-house agencies at its clients, and marcoms-owned outfits like WPP’s Hogarth.

Tag owner Williams Lea was once a security printer; handling annual reports and offers for sale in the days when such documents were the size of books. A rival was Communisis, a quoted collection of printers. Tag itself began life as The Adplates Group, providing colour separations to newspapers and magazines.

So print and agency services have come together to a large degree and now Communisis has strengthened its position in the production sector by buying Life, an integrated agency based in Birmingham and London, for £23m. Life’s clients include Dr Oetker, GSK, Molson Coors, Onken, SCA, Whitbread and Samsung. Joint owners and MDs Ian Humphris and David Poole will continue to run the business.

unnamed-4Humphris (right, with Poole) says: “We had no immediate plans to sell but were approached out of the blue with an offer that very quickly will allow us to deliver on our global growth ambitions.

“It also soon became evident after just a few conversations that Communisis has a very progressive view of agency acquisition – a breath of fresh air from the standard M&A deals offered by the major networks. It’s a new way of thinking about deals.

“We’ve always tried to maintain a flexible strategy and this deal plays into Life’s ambitions and our desire to create something exceptional for our clients. In seven years we’ve created a business that’s achieved a great deal, continues to broaden the breadth of competence and our clients will only benefit from what Communisis has to offer.”

Communisis CEO Andy Blundell says: “Life has exceptional talent throughout the business, a spectacular international client list and a way of doing business that tallies perfectly with what we’re trying to achieve.

“Ian, David and the team have created something pretty special, and we want to help them build on it, drive further synergies and keep their clients happy.”

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