Agencies Mergers and Acquisitions Dept

Dept’s ShopTalk deal marks fifth acquisition of the year – and there’s more to come


By Sam Bradley | Senior Reporter

August 11, 2022 | 4 min read

Dutch digital agency group Dept has acquired British design and experience studio ShopTalk for an undisclosed fee, in a bid to boost both its branding capabilities and its foothold in the UK.

Shoptalk's offices

Digital agency group Dept has made its fifth acquisition of the year / Shoptalk

Agency boss Dimi Albers told The Drum that Dept was still committed to growing through acquisitions, despite economic conditions that may curtail dealmaking over coming quarters.

The company ”adds a specialist team of high-end brand, design and experience builders that will work strategically with our teams in the UK and globally to create amazing brand and digital work that helps our clients stay ahead,” Albers said.

The agency employs around 15 staff and services clients such as Heinz, Innocent and Swiss carmaker Piëch.

Paul Ferry, director and co-founder of ShopTalk, said: “We’re passionate about using brand and creative as powerful commercial tools for companies large and small, lifting them to great things. What really resonated with us at Dept was the boutique level of service that they offer their clients, but with the talent, expertise and scale to provide brand experiences akin to that of a global network agency.”

The business will be integrated into the wider group to serve both UK and global clients, Albers confirmed, though Dept hopes the buy will boost its presence in the UK. ”As with the majority of our deals, it is both, as the ShopTalk team will ultimately work on both UK and global clients. The majority of their work will be aimed at UK-originating clients though, so you could say that the gravity of this step lies here,” he said.

The deal is the fifth acquisition made by Dept this year, after the group acquired US agency 3Q Digital, creative shops Dogstudio and Hello Monday, and data science firm Raybeam.

Rising interest rates may mean dampened agency enthusiasm for acquisition deals, since the cost of borrowing will be higher. Dept has fueled its previous acquisitions in part through private equity funding.

Albers told The Drum the group was still committed to growing through acquisitions in the short and long term. ”We are a fast-growing business with healthy margins, as are the teams we look at from an M&A perspective. Because we are in it for the long game, in our view, these businesses are valuable from a client perspective and thus worth investing in, regardless of temporary economic climate and/or interest rates.

”Of course, being extra diligent in a climate like this is the right thing to do. But, long story short, we will continue to be active on the strategic M&A front.”

Agencies Mergers and Acquisitions Dept

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