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WPP Acquires Stake in London's Clemmow Hornby Inge

Agency Has Been on a New-Business Tear

By Published on .

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- WPP Group bought a 49.9% stake today in Clemmow Hornby Inge, a London-based independent agency that reportedly was close to doing a deal with Havas when WPP stepped in.
The agency's launch client has an alliance with Best Buy that could mean a possible need for a U.S. operation.
The agency's launch client has an alliance with Best Buy that could mean a possible need for a U.S. operation.

Eyeing U.S. presence
The much-courted London agency was started in 2001 by Simon Clemmow, Johnny Hornby and Charles Inge, with the backing of the trio's first client, Carphone Warehouse. Now Carphone Warehouse has an alliance with Best Buy that could lead to the opening of U.S. stores, and a possible need for Clemmow Hornby to have a U.S. operation, where WPP would be a better ally in areas such as media buying than Havas.

Clemmow Hornby has expanded beyond traditional advertising and its holdings include a leading direct and digital agency called Hall Moore CHI.

WPP in a statement said Clemmow Hornby's revenues for the year ended June 30, 2006, were $37 million.

U.K. rankings
In the U.K., Clemmow Hornby is ranked by the trade press as the 16th-largest agency, based on 2006 billings of $276 million. The agency has been a new-business powerhouse, becoming a leading agency for Toyota in Europe, and winning U.K. business from British Gas and retailer Argos.

WPP's move comes just a month after the holding company closed the London office of United, whose remaining clients and staff moved to sibling Grey London. At the time, a United executive said the agency would return to the London market eventually. WPP's statement about the Clemmow Hornby deal said "CHI will retain its independent positioning."
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