finance

Global PR agency buys Edinburgh-based drinks industry specialist



Drinks industry PR firm Steely Fox has been bought by global PR agency W Communications for an undisclosed sum.

The move will see the opening of W Scotland and is seen as positive sign for the industry at a time when much dealmaking has been put on hold due to Covid-19.

W Communications said it has long eyed a move into Scotland’s £1.7bn annual marketing services sector.

The acquisition, it said would give it market entry “with an experienced, passionate and skilled team already in place.”

The deal reunites Steely Fox’s founder and managing director Rory Steel, with W Communications Founder and CEO Warren Johnson.

The pair began their careers at the same company in 1998 before going on to launch their own agencies a decade later.

Since doing so, their agencies have worked together on award-winning campaigns for brands including Hendrick’s Gin, Lidl, The i newspaper and Sailor Jerry rum.

Adding Edinburgh to its list of offices including London, Amsterdam, Singapore and New York, the acquisition increases W’s global footprint and aims to provide Scottish brands with a wider communication footprint.

Steely Fox’s office in Shoreditch, London, will be integrated into W’s central London operation. The Edinburgh operation will continue to operate from its Thistle Street HQ.

Steely Fox’s roster of clients includes Glenmorangie Group, Bacardi Group, Proximo Spirits, Ian McLeod Distillers, Isle of Arran Distillers, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and Hunter Laing & Co.

They will bolster W’s drink clients’ base that already includes Laurent Perrier, Camden Brewery, and Fever Tree.

Rory Steel, currently managing director at Steely Fox, will move into a strategic and creative advisory role, while Emma Dunn takes the lead as head of W Scotland.

Steel, said: “Our passion for the drinks industry has been well sated over the past 12 years, but our thirst for delivering highly creative initiatives for some of Scotland’s biggest brands continues.

“This is matched by W’s insatiable appetite for growth and so we’ve found the perfect suitors to take us onto the next level.

“The W Communications team have the proven firepower, expertise and credibility to help us develop into new sectors and project further Scotland’s most prestigious brands, as well as emerging ones, on national and global levels.

“This is a great deal and has our team here in Edinburgh buzzing with the opportunities ahead.”

W Communications’ founder and chairman Warren Johnson said: “We’re really excited to bring Rory and his team into the W family.

“We’ve worked together several times over the years, which has always delivered great results.

“The synergy between our two businesses, in terms of clients and culture, made the decision an easy one.”



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