IntegratedThe debut of the Prolific North Top 50 Integrated Agencies 2013 represents the definitive compilation of the North’s largest integrated agencies spanning creative, advertising, marketing and sales promotion. Agencies which generate their income either entirely or overwhelmingly from digital activities are the subject of a separate forthcoming initiative.

Unlike many agency rankings which rely on agencies submitting selected information about themselves or rankings which only include agencies who pay to be part of the selection process, the Prolific North ranking is wholly independent and is anchored on financial information taken from Companies House, supplemented by additional information from the agencies.

(Scroll down to go straight to the table) BetterPlacedAgency

Prolific North would like to thank Better Placed Recruitment for its sponsorship of this initiative. Dean Bartle, a director of Better Placed said: “Having recruited within this market for the last 10 years from our offices in Leeds and Manchester, we are pleased to be able to support the further development of Northern creative and agency talent.”

We are also pleased that Google has agreed to partner the Top 50 Integrated Google logoAgencies feature and the forthcoming Top 50 Digital Agencies feature and will work alongside Prolific North and our sponsors to create and deliver the follow-up events to the two rankings together with Barclays Bank at its TMT base in Manchester.

Research methodology

Working together with Mustard Research, one of the UK’s leading independent research companies, and the financial reporting company fame BVD, we looked at the accounts of over 150 integrated agencies which are either based in or have offices in the North and we also asked the agencies themselves for supplementary financial and related data.

The initial long list was ultimately whittled down to the final 50 in this ranking.

Agencies were not offered the option to be included or not.

Prolific North and Mustard would like to thank all the agencies concerned, whether ultimately included or not, for their time and effort in helping us to compile this unique compilation and we look forward to new agency names joining the ranking next year – as is to be expected given the sector is so dynamic.

Just under half of the agencies in this ranking file full accounts at Companies House, i.e. they have sales in excess of £6.5m.

In order to secure the full and transparent co-operation of all the participants – not just those where we were able to secure full financial data – we agreed with those agencies filing abbreviated accounts that we would not disclose the financials of any company in the compilation. This allowed these agencies to submit to us accurate information about sales and profits but also enabled them to retain a degree of privacy about their financial affairs.

The algorithm employed by Mustard is weighted towards balance sheet and/or shareholder funds together with turnover over the past two years and headcount.  Our information is not assessed over a given calendar year or period but simply reflects each company’s latest filed information. This does mean of course that an agency’s size and financial performance effectively take precedence over other factors such as creativity or specialisation, but there are other national rankings which judge agencies solely on criteria such as creativity and we were keen to establish the first ever Northern ranking based solely on financial performance.

The Top 50 Integrated Agencies initiative follows on from the publication of the ground-breaking Prolific North Top 50 PR Agencies ranking in June this year.

ThepowerofPRLocation and agency context

Interestingly, unlike that compilation which showed agencies from Manchester dominating the North’s PR scene, agencies from Leeds occupy half of the top 10 positions and eight of the top 20 with Jaywing of Sheffield also pitching in at number two.

Overall, agencies from Manchester and Leeds dominate the ranking but agencies from Newcastle, Liverpool, other parts of Yorkshire and a particularly strong showing from Cheshire complete the line-up.

There are some companies who don’t appear this year, in particular WRG, Fresh, HGA and EMS.

These four companies are all primarily events companies but are now increasingly driving into other creative services activities: from marketing and branding to TV commercial production, PR and even ad campaigns, and their size and ambition should not be underestimated with WRG enjoying sales of circa £67m and ptp of c£2.5m and Fresh now topping £13m turnover.

The non-appearance in the top 10 of one of the strongest agency brands based outside London, TBWA\Manchester, is largely down to the agency facing up to the loss of some major business, primarily its Co-op business. The past two years have seen turnover fall at the Didsbury agency and even slipping into a loss in 2011/2 but some recent chunky wins in the shape of Smyths Toys and Merlin Entertainments suggest that the 100-employee agency will in due course be reporting  its 2013 figures to Companies House showing a return to profitability and increased turnover.

Some agencies which may not be as familiar to some readers will, however, be well-known to marketers and brands; typically these are the more specialist agencies.

They include notable names such as Photolink and Hangar Seven, both of whose roots began in photographic studios but who now create broader marcomms services.

Other specialist agencies include Momentum Instore, which focuses on the retail sales environment, and Savvy Marketing and Blue Chip Marketing, both of whom also focus on the shopper and multi-channel marketing.

Jaywing, which sits at number two in the ranking, is part of an AIM-listed company which includes agency services and marketing, contact centres, consultancy and ‘big data’. Although consultancy, data and contact centre operations now account for the majority of the group’s sales, the agency operation, which is head-quartered in Sheffield, still comprises over 100 staff but is probably better known by its former guises of Dig for Fire and more latterly, THE_HAUNT_02_sign

McCann Manchester tops the ranking by some distance. The agency, which is based in Prestbury in Cheshire, enjoyed a turnover of just short of £100m and ptp of £3.8m last year, a figure significantly ahead of its peers in the ranking but then McCanns is arguably the only major agency among the integrated agencies reviewed here which books its own media in any volume. The other agencies occasionally book space but typically they will work with media buying agencies on bigger campaigns.

All of the agencies ranked in this compilation do of course offer digital activities and in some cases their digital arms would, on their own, constitute sizeable stand-alone digital agencies, but they do all style themselves as broader integrated agencies.

Prolific North will be publishing a separate compilation of the Top 50 Digital Agencies and further information will be published shortly about this initiative.

We will also be publishing our inaugural Top 100 Brands in February. This new initiative is sponsored by Tangerine PR and the Juice Academy and further details will be announced in early December.

(Update/s – 22/11/13 – Hangar Seven acquires London consultancy Brandhouse)

(21/2/14 – Blue Logic acquires Coolpink)

The Prolific North Top 50 Integrated Agencies 2013


# Company name North of England office locations Head- count Selection of clients
1 McCann Manchester Prestbury 317 JD Williams Group (Marisota), npower, Pizza Hut Delivery, Farnell, Nestle, Hartley’s. Aldi and Shire
2 Jaywing Sheffield 100+ Sky, GM, Open University, Mars, Yorkshire Water, first direct
3 Home Leeds 122 Bupa, B&Q, Cooperative, Gala Interactive, Bonmarche, La Redoute
4 Havas Lynx Manchester 165 pfizer, GE, Novartis, GSK, Roche, AZ, Johnson & Johnson
5 Gratterpalm Leeds 154 Coral,Halfords, Asda, Greggs, DFS, Magners, KC, Arla Foods
6 Principles Leeds 85 McCain, National Trust, Simply Be, Ronseal, Superbreak
7 Photolink Manchester 100 John Lewis, Clarks, Regis Salons, Tesco, Very, Littlewoods, Argos, Homebase and Kitbag.
8 Momentum Instore Handforth 90 Boots, Sainsbury’s, RBS, TUI, B&Q
9 Brass Leeds 111 Warburtons, CBBC, Hoseasons, Persimmon Homes, Yorkshire Building Society
10 Intermarketing Agency Leeds 65 adidas, RSA, East Coast, La Redoute, Shop Direct,
11 CBJWT Manchester 71 Baxters, CSL, John West, Magnet, Famous Grouse, Victoria Plumb
12 BJL Manchester 60 Eurocamp, Pilkington, Crown, Silentnight, Subaru, Rustlers
13 Savvy Leeds 67 adidas, Florette, Ragu, Mars, Campbells, Magnum (ice creams)
15 TBWA\Manchester Manchester 100 BP PZ Cussons First TransPennine Express Manchester United Seven Seas Merlin Entertainments
16 Elmwood Leeds 26
17 SteinIAS Bollington 53 Trelleborg, Talk Talk, Atos, MERCK, Pearson, Arco, Castrol,Nespresso
18 Love Creative Manchester 40 DIAGEO, Virgin Media, CAT, Umbro, Chief
19 Propaganda Leeds 40 Ann Summers, Republic, Greggs
20 FPP Newcastle and Leeds 30
21 Drummond Central Newcastle 30 bet365, Stoke City FC, Newcastle Building Society
22 Hangar Seven Macclesfield, Leeds 60 Argos, Lego, Homebase, Barbour, Viking
23 Delineo Manchester 55 WST, The Co-op Bank, NRL, Camps Solicitors, Your Legal Friend, Aldermore, Zen Internet
24 Blue Chip Manchester 29 Kellogg’s, O2, Muller, Quorn, PZ Cussons, Rowntrees, Adams Foods
25 CorporateCulture Liverpool 30 Asda, EDF, NHS, Sport England, LTA, Environment Agency
26 Bluestorm Hull 32 Hornsea Freeport, Hull College, Mr Hughs, Larchwood Foods
27 Clear Marketing Manchester 25 Topps Tiles, Cala Homes, Pets At Home
28 MC2 Manchester 44 The Global Draw Ltd, University of Central Lancashire, North West Air Ambulance, Northedge Capital LLP, Ainscough Crane Hire Ltd, BFS Companies Inc
29 Gyro Manchester 34 Samsung, ABN AMRO Commercial Finance, Aon, Tetra Pak, Intuit, Project One, Marshalls, Pitney Bowes, Tate & Lyle
30 Bloom Leeds 64 Engage Mutual, Goal, Help Link, Benenden, LA Fitness, Emirates
31 One Communications Manchester 35 Taylor Wimpey, Together Trust, Franke, Danbro, Moduleo, Hoover Candy, United Utilities, Euler Hermes
32 Turn Key Leeds 35 Sambuca, Barratts, Lily Allen, Metquarter, Hammerson
33 Foundry Communicaitons Altrincham 23 MerseyRail, PGL Holidays, Crawford Healthcare and Stobart Barristers
34 Creative Marketing Services Leeds 13 Adjustamatic, Braid Logistics, Leeds NHS, Mansfield Pollard
35 Cirrus Wilmslow 30 Redrow, Booths, DWF, Netflights, Specsavers, Le Tour Yorkshire
36 driven Wilmslow 16 Vimto, Subway, Blue Diamond Almonds, Alpecin,
37 Everything Different Newcastle 41 Land Securities, Cornerhouse, CAA, Procter & Gamble
38 Strawberry Hull 30 Wilberforce College, Collett Logistics, Claughton Furniture
39 Madhouse Associates Manchester 27 Scapa, Knauf, Johnston Press
40 Heckford Advertising Preston 28 Tomy, Vimto, Stagecoach, Principal Hotels, Wade Ceramics, Mitsubishi Electronics
41 Ponderosa Group Otley 31 Lambs, Stan James, Danone Scottish Co-op
42 Motionlab Preston 29 Solidor, Residence 9, Easigrass, Granite transformations, Premier bathrooms, Ainscough Vanguard, Fit Show,, Deceuninck, Mila, Arran Isle, Carlisle Brass
43 Coolpink Leeds 20 smeg, Asda, Pannones, dfs, Wren Kitchens
44 Fantastic Media Leeds 25 Ronan Developments, Skopes Ladieswear, fruitypot, James Milner Foundation
45 Rare Creative Sheffield 15 Saint-Gobain Glass, Polypipe, National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine, University of Leeds, Carl Kammerling International, Protec International
46 The Whole Caboodle Harrogate 26 Farrow & Ball, NHS, groupauto
47 Cravens Newcastle 15 Gala Coral, Virgin oney, Utilitywise, First (Sheffield Bus Partnership), Newcastle-Gateshead Initiative
48 Wilson Cooke Bury 35 Cranfield University, Keoghs, Ricky Hatton, Rollins, Liquid Plastics
49 Marketecture Manchester 22 DHL Supply Chain, Martin Dawes Systems, Westco, Comstor,
50 Uniform Liverpool 28 GDHA (Belling, Stoves), Westfield, Shop Direct (Very), The FA, Unilever