Acquity enters administration but jobs saved after Crayon takeover
Acquity, the customer insight and direct media buying company formerly known as Tri-Direct, has gone into voluntary administration and its business has been acquired by Crayon, saving all 34 jobs.
The board of Acquity took the decision to put the company into administration after receiving a retrospective tax bill that rendered it "technically insolvent", according to managing director and shareholder Richard Davies.
Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) sought three years' worth of VAT on financial services, direct mail and leaflets.
The 20-year old company had been profitable before the claim, according to Davies. Its most recently filed accounts, for the year ended 30 November 2008, show a post-tax profit of £484,165 on revenues of £23m and an average number of employees during the year of 51.
The board appointed administrators Resolve Partners last Tuesday (1 June), which sold the business of Acquity for an undisclosed sum to Crayon the following day.
Acquity Limited remains in administration and Resolve is investigating the company's VAT position. It is not yet known how big the company's liabilities are, but the administrator hopes to return "substantial dividends" to creditors.
It is unclear whether shareholders will receive anything. The other shareholders are co-founders Andrew Higgs and Barry Leeson-Earle and finance director Patrick Carew.
Acquity rebranded from its former name Tri-Direct in early 2009 to reflect its development into customer insight. Historically the company specialised in direct media planning and buying, which it still offers to some clients.
Clients include Hiscox, Lloyds Banking Group and Vue Entertainment.
The business of Acquity is now housed in a new company 100% owned by Crayon called Acquity Customer Insight.
The business will retain the Acquity brand name and will become Crayon's data planning and analytics arm, as well as continuing to provide media agency services.
The business includes proprietary data planning tool Continuum, which covers 98% of the UK consumer population.
Davies will become part of Crayon's management team and Higgs will be director of data services.
Leeson-Earle and Carew have been retained as consultants.
Mark Runacus, senior partner at Crayon, said: "This acquisition will also act as a springboard for investment in new data for digital products, and in digital media."
Crayon was previously known as The HS&P Group, which included integrated relationship marketing agency HS&P, digital agency Crayon, and specialist consultancies in data analysis, loyalty and word of mouth.
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