Havas Group bolsters CX with acquisition of UK agency

Yannick-BolloreHavas Group is boosting its Havas CX network with the acquisition of independent digital experience agency Inviqa, as part of plans to expand its specialism, scale, and capabilities in experience design, software engineering, technology consulting, and ecommerce.

Founded in 2007 by Yair Spitzer and Paul Wander as iBuildings UK, the agency – which has virtually no media profile – specialises in content management systems and ecommerce.

Inviqa is a unification of three companies – Session Digital, iKOS Digital and Inviqa – that operated as a group for a number of years; it now has 150 employees across eight offices, in the UK and central Europe, including Germany.

The majority of its UK staff will move into Havas’ King’s Cross Village. Its locations in other parts of the UK, including Leeds and Liverpool, will remain the same. European offices, such as those in Berlin and Munich, will collaborate with local Havas Creative agencies.

The company, whose clients include Tesco, Reiss, Phoenix Healthcare, and Arsenal FC is being merged with Havas’ existing UK-based digital experience agency, Ekino London.

The combined business will retain the Inviqa brand and be led by CEO Spitzer. Ekino will continue to operate as a standalone brand within Havas CX in non-UK markets including France, New York and Singapore.

Inviqa will be one of three specialist CX agencies in the UK, along with Gate One (which was acquired in 2019 and posted 75% growth in 2021) and customer engagement agency Havas CX Helia (which increased both revenue and headcount by more than 20% in 2021).

According to Inviqa’s accounts for the year ended December 31 2020, filed at Companies House, the agency has had a challenging time during the Covid pandemic, citing “heavy losses” in Q3 and Q4 2020. Its profits for the year, after tax, totalled £77,287 compared to £1.3m in 2019.

However, in its filing, the company stated: “Many of the company’s clients are budgeting for more digital transformation, especially in the areas of experience design and ecommerce. UK performance so far has been very strong and very strong sales pipeline which could turn out to be our best year yet.”

Publicis refused to give exact details of the value of the acquisition, instead describing it as “a substantial, eight-figure deal”.

Havas Group chairman and CEO Yannick Bolloré (pictured) said: “Over a number of years, our acquisition strategy has focused on cutting-edge, best-in-class agencies within the digital customer experience space – and Inviqa certainly fits that bill.

“As the world begins to transition out of the pandemic, customer experience continues to represent one of our biggest growth opportunities – as demonstrated by the success of the Havas CX network, which has grown by two-thirds since its launch in 2020. Inviqa will help us unlock even more cross-discipline opportunities.”

Spitzer added: “We’re truly delighted to join the Havas family. The move follows a very rigorous process to find the right strategic partner to support our goals, expand our reach, and deliver even more value to our clients and their customers. We received several interesting offers, but were impressed above all by the quality of Havas’ people, its entrepreneurial spirit, and the synergy across the group’s ‘Village’ model.

“Havas’ mission is closely aligned with our focus on inclusive and purposeful digital products that drive the best customer and business outcomes. We’re excited to bring together our deep expertise in digital experience and to collaborate with specialists across other complementary disciplines.”

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