French agency Havas buys UK consulting firm Gate One

12 December 2019 3 min. read
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Global marketing and media agency Havas, a subsidiary of the French conglomerate Vivendi, has acquired Gate One, a business consulting firm based in the United Kingdom.

The move comes at a time when the creative agency landscape is facing the heat of consultants, as consultants unleash their more strategic client network, size and digital capabilities to the benefit of clients. As a result, a growing number of chief marketing officers – the main target of creatives – are turning to consulting firms for advice and execution support. 

Built from scratch, but massively accelerated by an aggressive buy-and-build campaign, the likes of Accenture, Cognizant, Deloitte and PwC today have large creative practices, and operate head to head versus traditional market incumbents such as BBDO, Dentus, Ogilvy, Omnicon and Publicis. In fact, according to data from AdAge, the globe’s top four players now are consulting-heritage players. 

Creative agencies are however fighting back, and are in turn beefing up their consulting and digital skills in response. In the latest of these developments, Havas has given its British subsidiary green light to acquire Gate One, a London-based management consulting firm specialised in transformation, project delivery and change management.French agency Havas buys UK consulting firm Gate OneAccording to Yannick Bollore, chief executive and chairman of Havas, the venturing into consulting is a “bold move” for the firm, and one that “has the potential to unlock huge growth for our group in the UK and beyond.” Now, alongside providing marketing and branding services, Havas can add consultancy to its portfolio and evolve its offerings into an integrated service provider.

The deal marks Havas’ fifth major deal this year. In September, the firm bought a company in India – digital agency Langoor – and before that, it bought a stake in Parisian independent shop Buzzman, a majority of US-agency Battery, and a majority in Idea of Estonia and Lithuanian Publicum, which now operate as Havas Baltics. 

As part of the integration, Gate One will retain its name and leadership team, and early next year relocate its entire 70-plus staff to the Havas Kings Cross Village in London. Globally, Havas has over 20,000 employees in more than 100 countries, with its UK operation one of the more mature practices in Europe.

Commenting on the deal, Gate One chief executive Tim Phillips said; “Our clients and the broader market are increasingly telling us that they need integrated digital, marketing and business transformation services and it was obvious when we met the team at Havas that we had found our future home.” 

In other recent French-British tie-ups, operations consultancy Argon Consulting last year merged with UK-based Crimson & Co, while French-origin consultancy Wavestone expanded its UK presence with the purchase of Xceed.