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Marketing agency Quirk to sell to leading global communications group

South African marketing agency Quirk has announced a deal with NASDAQ- and LSE-listed WPP Plc which will see the world leader in advertising and marketing services take a controlling interest, subject to regulatory approval, in the entrepreneurial and independent company.

Quirk was founded by CEO Rob Stokes in 1999, and began life as a digital agency. Today, it is Africa’s largest independent marketing agency group and offers a full suite of ‘through-the-line’ marketing services to a formidable portfolio of local and international clients.

This investment aligns well with WPP’s strategy of developing its services in fast-growing and important markets and sectors and strengthening its capabilities in digital media. WPP’s digital revenues (including associates) were well over US$6 billion in 2013, representing almost 35 percent of the Group’s total revenues of US$17.3 billion. WPP has set a target of 40-45 percent of revenue to be derived from digital in the next five years.

‘WPP has been watching Quirk for a while and we feel strongly that now is the right time for us to join forces,’ said WPP CEO, Sir Martin Sorrell. ‘As a group, Quirk has demonstrated consistent growth and creativity way above the market in both South Africa and the UK, and we look forward to helping it bring its unique brand of insight and innovation to our global client base.’

Stokes was equally enthusiastic. ‘I feel like we have agreed an incredible deal, and one which will really take our business forward,’ he said. ‘Quirk is not a normal agency, and the team at WPP realise this. They have embraced our rather unusual culture and progressive approach to marketing, and together we have designed a partnership which will allow us to retain much of our independence in areas which matter most to us, whilst still allowing us to benefit from the advantages of being part of a global advertising network. Quirk has always held massive ambitions to expand our unique service offerings across the African continent, and our relationship with WPP will ensure that this becomes a reality far quicker that we could otherwise have dreamed. Words cannot express how excited we are!’

Quirk currently has five agencies in Africa and London, including a new but burgeoning presence in Kenya. Its clients include Distell, Capitec, Woolworths, Hollard, Makro, Unilever, Caltex and Tyco, all of whom will no doubt benefit from Quirk’s increased access to people, intellectual property, technology and global thinking that its affiliation with WPP will facilitate.

Quirk’s unaudited consolidated revenues for the year ended 28 February 2014 were approximately ZAR 140 million, with gross assets at the same date of approximately ZAR 68 million.

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