MSQ sees off Covid nightmare to reveal record results

Peter Reid, CEO, MSQ PartnersMSQ has battled through the Covid pandemic to reveal record results following a series of strategic investments that it claims has reinforced the business as one of the marketing industry’s leading digital and data-led international marcoms groups.

The group, which comprises agencies Freemavens, Holmes & Marchant, The Gate, MBAstack, MMT Digital, Smarts, Stein IAS, twentysix and Walk-In Media, delivered a gross profit of £68m and revenue of £93m in the financial year to February 28 2021. These figures take into account the contribution from Be Heard Partnership agencies, which were acquired by MSQ in September 2020.

As a group, MSQ proved resilient through the Covid period and the six agencies that were part of MSQ for the full year delivered flat year-on-year gross profit and EBITDA on a like-for-like basis, as did the overall enlarged group once Be Heard agencies had been integrated in H2.

MSQ claims this stability has helped it build momentum to return to a robust level of growth in 2021, with gross profit up 20% over the first two months of the financial year (March and April). The group is expecting growth to further accelerate over the remainder of the year and continues to have a strong new business pipeline.

Alongside Be Heard Partnership, which saw MMT Digital, Freemavens and agenda21 join the group, MSQ has invested heavily in a number of other key areas over the past 12 months.

In March, it acquired the independent digital agency MBA, merging it with Stack to create MBAstack. The group also launched a creative and production offer, rolling out a series of content delivery products and hiring Morgan Cox as head of dynamic content.

Further highlights include the launch of MSQ B2B, and MSQ/Sustain, a specialist division that offers climate, environment and sustainability marketing expertise to NGOs and commercial businesses.

MSQ chief executive Peter Reid (pictured) said: “The past year has thrown up a unique set of challenges and I’m really proud of the way that everyone across the MSQ group has responded. I believe our agile, client-centric model of joined-up agencies is perfectly suited to the current climate, and our latest set of results is testament to that.

“Through agility, creativity and strong client relationships, the agencies within MSQ most affected by the pandemic managed to bounce back quickly, whilst others maintained the momentum of previous years to reach new heights. And, of course, through key acquisitions such as Be Heard, our group is stronger and more diverse than ever. We will continue to invest in new talent and new capabilities going forward to further build on our big ambitions.”

Areas of investment planned for MSQ in 2021 include further growth in the US and Asia markets. MSQ’s PR and content agency, Smarts, has already opened an office in New York this year, while The Gate New York has recently appointed industry stalwart Nancy Aresu as president.

MSQ is also set to move into a new London HQ based in Covent Garden next month, which will house all nine London-based MSQ businesses under one roof.

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