Today we announced that we have merged with Armitage Communications, a really exciting development that takes the existing Napier Group (Napier and Peter Bush Communications) to the next stage of our journey and means we can be an even better agency for our clients.

We aren’t perfect… but we’re very, very good

We are always looking for other agencies that can bring new things to the Napier Group. Although we invest a lot of time and money into training, once you realise that perfection is unachievable, the opportunities to combine the best bits of two great organisations becomes very compelling.

What Armitage brings

There are so many things about Armitage that made me want to do the deal, but they can be summarised by three things:

People: the talent in Armitage is truly amazing. I’m blown away by many areas in which they excel, including the quality of their writing; their design and animation; and their marketing automation and database expertise. These skills are basically a reflection of the talented people at Armitage. The team are also nice people. I want to only work with people I like, and the Armitage team are wonderful from David Armitage downwards.

Culture: Armitage has a culture that in many ways is like Napier. They care about doing a good job for the client and are proud of the work they do. They also bring a culture of real creativity that generates some of the best PR concepts I’ve seen. It’s going to be great to be a part of this culture.

Markets: the business reason is that Armitage is a B2B technology agency, just like Napier, but works in slightly different markets. They are much stronger in industrial automation than we are and have an impressive communications practice. There is no point in an agency getting together with another one that has conflicting clients, and this isn’t the case with Armitage.

Napier’s contribution

A company acquisition is always hard for a managing director. It’s easy to run after the new, shiny business and forget about the great organisation you had before. I’m confident this won’t happen as I’m still excited about Napier, even after 18 years. If I was a client, I can honestly say I would hire Napier: perhaps this isn’t surprising, but I’ve always thought of running an agency as being a job where you try to create an agency whose fees you’d happily pay if you were on the other side of the fence.

Like Armitage, Napier has great people and a strong culture. In addition to the complementary markets, we bring expertise in processes and efficiency; an outstanding approach to training and development and loads of experience working in other European countries. Peter Bush Communications has a team with market expertise that is synergistic with Armitage’s markets and I’m sure the two business units will work together closely.

Isn’t this all about size of the business?


Let’s face it, one of the nicest things you can do is to give people jobs. And I would be lying if I said my ego wasn’t massaged just a little by the chance to run a business like Armitage, as well as Napier and PBC. But there have been many other, probably easier, opportunities to grow by acquisition that we’ve had over the last few years and we’ve turned them down. If we were looking for other agencies to get together with just to grow the business, the Napier Group would already be three times the size.

Getting together – it doesn’t matter what size you are, it’s always difficult

I was talking to a client who was involved in multi-billion-dollar acquisitions, who said to me that he felt that size of deal didn’t really impact complexity, and that it might even be easier to negotiate a huge deal because you had a bigger team. He’s a really nice guy, and I don’t for a minute believe he really meant what he said (the deals he worked on have transformed an industry), but there is an element of truth.

Once you start trying to bring two businesses together, you get lawyers involved. While they do a really good job, things are always more difficult, more complex and slower than you ever imagined. We thought that it would take two months to get everything completed and it took more than twice as long. It’s been a nightmare having to keep quiet about something that is so exciting and such good news for so long, and I’m relieved I can finally talk about Armitage publicly.

What happens next?

Fortunately, we have some experience: getting together with Peter Bush Communications was extremely successful and we are looking to repeat the success with Armitage. We’re moving to single systems for our back-office, but initially there will be little change in the way that any of the three companies in the Napier Group work on a day-to-day basis. Each business is rightly proud of their brand, and we want to develop and grow the Armitage brand as part of a strong group of companies. The priority for me, however, is to ensure we share the areas of unique expertise of each of the three businesses with the other two.

From a client point of view, it probably means that very little will change in the short term. Hopefully in the long term we will be able to help you with more projects and have a larger team with an even broader range of skills working for you.

The teams will have an opportunity to work with more colleagues on a wider variety of clients and project. There will also be the chance to learn new skills.

Any other mergers or acquisitions in the pipeline?

As I mentioned before, we’re always looking for other agencies that could make us a better company. So, I certainly wouldn’t rule out another deal in the future. But we’re very picky. Extremely picky! It took us about five years (during which time we said “no” a lot!) to find PBC, and another five to find Armitage, so don’t hold your breath waiting for news of another deal!


If you have any other questions, please do ask me. We’re excited about how getting together can benefit all our clients, and I’m looking forward to lots of interesting conversations over the next few months.