Brilliant Media's managing director Chris Broadbent has spoken candidly to The Drum about the agency's wellbeing after months of speculation over its future.
In an interview in the new issue of The Drum magazine, Broadbent insists Leeds-based Brilliant remains profitable and explains the moves it has taken to get over the double blow of losing major accounts with DFS and ASDA in March.
Asked about the rumours Brilliant was on the verge of closure after losing that business, Broadbent said: "Let’s be clear about this: it was speculation which was really started by credit insurance, and what would happen with DFS not being there. Our relationships, our credit limit, all of our ratings are exactly the same now as before all these troubles.
"At the time we got everyone together at every possible opportunity and gave them a weekly update as to what was happening. Our competitors were all chipping away trying to steal clients and staff and spreading misinformation. We had to, as much as you can, tell the truth basically.
“I think we have been very straight with people and the best thing we can do is stick two fingers up to the people that have been throwing the stones and say: Right, we’re still here, we’re still profitable and we’ve actually been winning quite a bit of business in the intervening period.”
There are now 75 staff at Brilliant's Leeds office where there were previously 100. A dozen employees were made redundant and as predicted by The Drum, 10 staff working on the ASDA account moved with it to Carat thanks to TUPE regulations.
"We have lost some people but we are also recruiting. What we’ve got to be is fit for the future."
Broadbent pointed to Brilliant's investment in digital, and its recent appointment by CSL (among other clients due to be announced soon), as signs the business has put the tumult of recent months behind it.
He said for the financial year to 31 March, Brilliant turned over £143m but that was before around £50m of DFS and ASDA business left the agency. For the coming year turnover is expected to be closer to £90m.
But Broadbent insisted it is profit, and not turnover, that motivates him now.
"Our gross profit has only come down relatively slightly. Obviously our turnover has come down hugely and that’s the headline everyone looks at. But if I said that we were going to be more profitable this year, on a reduced turnover model, with fewer people doing more good work, then we could potentially be a better business for it."
You can read the full interview in this week's edition of The Drum magazine, which will be landing on subscribers' desks shortly. We'll also be publishing further extracts, including Brilliant's aims for the future, online tomorrow.