Since recording its first loss in 2009, of £7.2m, the business has expanded beyond its pure print heritage to transform itself into a marketing services operation.
Its first acquisition, data firm Occam, has been followed by deals for Response One, Incite and Forward Thinking among others. In March, it acquired digital agency Amaze in a deal worth £23.4m.
Speaking to DecisionMarketing last month, the company revealed it had a £55m acquisition warchest, with finance director Matt Armitage saying St Ives was looking to move further into web optimisation and search.
Mirroring its strategy to keep acquisitions autonomous, Branded3 will operate as a subsidiary of St Ives and its team of about 50 staff will continue to be managed from current locations in Leeds and London. Its management team will continue to be led by co-founders Vin Chinnaraja and Patrick Altoft.
Chinnaraja said: “We have achieved another major milestone in our growth plans and becoming part of a synergistic, forward-thinking group where there is huge potential for collaboration is a real boost for us. I am really looking forward to working with the St Ives team to fulfil our ambitious plans.”
Altoft added: “Branded3 already has a strong reputation as one of the most respected search agencies in the UK. With the support from St Ives Group, we can continue to grow both in the UK and internationally by being part of a larger group whilst still retaining our own identity and culture as an independently managed specialist agency.”
St Ives chief executive Patrick Martell (pictured) said the deal would add “significant depth” to its digital offering and further enhance the range of marketing services it can provide existing and prospective clients.
He added: “Our combination of insight-led innovation and trusted execution across digital and physical media creates a unique integrated offering in the market, which this acquisition complements well.”
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