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Explain enters London negotiations

Wednesday 21 November 2012 5:00

Market research business Explain says it is in negotiations to acquire a London rival following its buyout of a fellow North East firm yesterday.

The Newcastle company, which employs around 40 staff at its offices near St James’ Park, has announced the acquisition of Tyneside-based research firm wood holmes for an undisclosed sum.

A handful of wood holmes staff will join Explain and the brand will be discontinued. While Explain lists a number of utilities, financial and professional services clients on its books, wood holmes – founded in 1989 – has historically been strong in the public sector.

Recent wood holmes work includes a communications, research and engagement strategy for the New Tyne Crossing project and research for the Coastal Economy Toolkit for the Coastal Communities Alliance.

The acquisition will offer “a vastly enhanced offering as the combined services of two highly respected agencies merger”, according to Explain.

Meanwhile Explain founder David Shiel said the company is now in negotiations with a market research business in London with a view to making an additional acquisition.

“We’ve started negotiations,” he said. “They are in some different sectors from us and from us and we’re quite keen to strengthen in one or two areas fairly quickly. The research market is fairly static at the moment so it’s not that easy to grow really quickly any longer.

“It could help us grow that little bit quicker down south as you tend to be taken slightly more seriously by the bigger companies if you have a London office – although it’s not essential.”

Shiel, who founded the business in 1993, also confirmed that he has relinquished his MD duties to his colleague Kim Davis as he assumes a back-seat, strategic role.

Earlier this year Explain opened a new call centre located a few properties down from its HQ on Leazes Park Road. Having reached its 26-staff capacity, the company is now looking to extend its lease to an additional floor in the property.

The deal to acquire wood holmes was struck after its owner Stuart Smith moved to South East Asia to take up a senior post at the National University of Singapore.

He remains involved in the business in a consultancy capacity, as does his partner Tamsin Greulich – the current MD of wood holmes - who will move to Singapore next year.

She said: “We are delighted to be able to bring together these ambitious and talented agencies. Wood holmes has a global reputation for excellence in pioneering innovative new techniques with ethical foundations. The acquisition by Explain can only bring positive change and I have no doubt that our existing clients will be impressed by what we are able to offer with Explain.”