Advert agency Acorn set for growth after acquisition

Irish Times September 28th 2012

CHAMPAGNE CORKS must have been popping this week at the office of Dublin-based advertising agency Acorn following its acquisition by US group Hyper Marketing. No transaction price was disclosed but I understand the deal involves an investment by Hyper of €5 to €7 million, between the purchase price and its plans to use the Irish business as a springboard into Europe.

“It’s very exciting for us because we’re going to ramp up our headcount from 52 to close to 100 by the end of 2013” Acorn’s chief executive, Cottier, told me.

Cottier, who joined the business last year from Publicis UK, is preparing to open an office in his native London by Christmas, then in Geneva and Brussels. Acorn and Hyper had worked together for about 18 months through a common client, internet giant Google.

Acorn was set up in 2006 by Frank McCaughey - now its executive chairman – as a direct marketing agency. Its roster of clients includes insurer RSA and its subsidiary 123.ie, Bank of Ireland, Molson Canadian and Dell. It will continue to trade under the Acorn brand and Cottier and managing director Estelle Gorby will lead the business under Hyper’s ownership.

Hyper has more than 1,100 staff in 23 offices in the US. Its annual revenues this year will be about $280 million (€217 million). “With the backing now of Hyper Marketing, our expansion can continue at a quicker pace,” Cottier said.

Blackthorn Capital (formerly Origin Corporate Finance) advised Acorn shareholders on the transaction.