Williams Lea sets sights on global brands with Tag buy

Simon Nias
Monday, July 18, 2011

Williams Lea's long-awaited acquisition of Tag Worldwide, which has been 'on-again off-again' since late last year, finally came to fruition this week.

Having waited for so long for the deal to break, now that it finally has it seems like something of an anti-climax. After almost a year of pondering the outcome of such a merger, there’s little excitement to be had from the announcement itself (although I’m sure Steve Parish and his fellow shareholders would disagree).

What is interesting is the shape these two companies will take as they go to market with their joint offering, not to mention what other acquisitions Williams Lea/Deutsche Post might have up its sleeve.

Make no mistake, just as Williams Lea emerged as the dominant force in print management, Griffiths will be focused on pulling off a similar feat in the emerging market for global marketing services providers.

As far back as 2009, Tag was touted to me as the next big force in BPO, thanks to its direct relationship with agencies and brands. Williams Lea brings its global footprint and expertise in supply chain optimisation to the table and together the two firms have exactly what the marketers at the world’s biggest brands want.

The question for me is how quickly will the two companies establish a shared vision and how well will Steve Parish manage the transition from company owner to corporate player. David Mitchell, former CEO of Astron, lasted a year after selling up to RR Donnelley and Astron was never the same without him.

Parish is similarly important to Tag and his retention beyond whatever the duration of any earn-out clause might be will be of crucial importance.

Simon Nias News editor, PrintWeek

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