Rupert Howell returns to agencies as equity finance house Hutton Collins buys Billington Cartmell

Only as non-exec chairman mind but no doubt Howell’s contacts book and boundless optimism (Howell was a founder of HHCL, marketing boss of ITV and head of McCann in the UK) will prove useful to Billington Cartmell Group’s new owners Hutton Collins Partners. Matthew Hooper who founded and sold Interfocus to Omnicom, also joins as a non-exec.

Minority shareholder Hutton Collins has bought the whole of London integrated agency Billington Cartmell in a deal that sees the departure of founders Ian Billington and Paul Cartmell, no doubt with a few quid in their respective pockets.

Agency veteran John Gellett (pictured) becomes group CEO with the company’s other senior execs remaining in place.

Billlington and Cartmell say in a statement: “We are very proud of what we have built: a truly market-leading integrated communications group with real core strengths in advertising, direct, digital, shopper and experiential marketing, that employs over 180 people and generates over £16 million in gross income from an enviable global blue chip client list. We are indebted to our clients who have been truly loyal and supportive over the years”.

John Gellett says: “Billington Cartmell is a successful agency with a good reputation, great clients and many excellent people. The opportunity now is to build on the foundations laid by Ian and Paul and create a market-leading integrated agency group that fully embraces the new media and digital revolution.”

As for Rupert Howell (left): “I have now seen the marcoms sector from the agency, client and media owner perspective and share Hutton Collins’s conviction that there is an opportunity to build a new type of independent communications group based around the skills that Billington Cartmell has in abundance. That is why Matthew Hooper and I are delighted to be joining the board to help John Gellett and the BC team achieve that goal.”

BC Group includes three agencies – integrated Billington Cartmell, experiential agency Closer and creative agency Brave. It operate from offices in Fulham and Parsons Green in West London and clients include GSK, Unilever, Morrisons and Panasonic.

Hutton Collins invests in early stage companies and its investments include Caffe Nero, Vincent Hotels and Novus Leisure.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.