Byravee Iyer
Sep 30, 2013

Design consultancy Elmwood seeks acquisitions to boost expansion in Asia

SINGAPORE - Elmwood, a UK-headquartered brand design consultancy, is eyeing potential acquisitions in Asia as it seeks to boost its presence in the region.

Design consultancy Elmwood seeks acquisitions to boost expansion in Asia

Over the next 12 months, the company is likely to pick up a couple of smaller agencies in the region, said Jonathan Sands, the company's chairman. At present, Sands is in talks with two agencies in the design space. He declined to disclose the names of the agencies but said the moves would help Elmwood double in size within the year.

“These are interesting times for Elmwood as we grow our presence in the region,” said Sands, who was in Singapore for a short business visit. “From a humble start with one person just three years ago we are now a dozen strong and I believe we will double in size again in the next 12 months.”

He also confirmed that Elmwood is interested in expanding its footprint into markets like Shanghai and Beijing via joint ventures.

Sands stressed that for any future deal there would need to be a complementary client list, talent and critical mass. “The sum of the parts is greater than the individual,” he said.

Singapore has become a hotspot for consultancy firms over the past couple of years. Earlier this year, another UK-based firm, JKR, opened its doors in Singapore led by managing partner Emily Kousah. The agency has already won and completed a brand identity project for Unilever in Singapore. Independent agency Arcade also entered Singapore with a joint venture with Hiroshi Harada, the former regional head of Dentsu Asia.

Elmwood launched its regional office in Singapore three years ago without an anchor client. Today, the company has about six clients on its roster in Asia including P&G, Danone, Hen Tick Foods and Pimico. Globally, brands such as Nestle, Durex, Walmart, BBC and Marks & Spencer make up Elmwood’s client list.

The company has offices in Leeds, London, Melbourne, New York and Singapore. There are currently 13 employees on the agency’s payroll in Singapore and the company is also scouting for a managing director in Singapore.

At present, about 50 per cent of the company’s revenues come from outside the UK, Sands said. It’s global fee income for last year was about $19.8 million and it posted profits of about $3.9 million largely due to its aggressive expansion in the region, he added.

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