Four acquires Marmelo
6 September, London: Independent integrated agency Four Communications Group (Four) has today announced the acquisition of Shoreditch-based creative technologists Marmelo. The acquisition expands Four’s senior digital leadership and heavyweight in-house UX, design and development skills with the Marmelo team of four augmenting Four’s digital teams in London, Cardiff and Dubai.

Four offers a full range of marketing and communications services and now has more than 320 staff worldwide. The deal will in particular strengthen Four’s PACE (performance, activation, creative & engagement) business unit which includes a team of 80 digital technologists, marketers, planners and creatives.

Founded by co-directors Luke Alexander and Dr Abhinav Bajpai in 2015, Marmelo quickly made its mark with its deep understanding of technologies across and beyond the traditional digital agency scope.  Marmelo’s work over the past six years has included UX-driven websites and mobile apps for the NHS, the Ethical Property Company and Red Bull; consultancy and product development for the UK Department for Transport, Nesta and Tesco; and one-off solutions in VR, computer vision and embedded technologies with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Twitter and the Old Vic. The agency has also conducted research, supported by national R&D funding, in areas such as augmented reality storytelling.

Marmelo’s team will join Four’s fully flexible workforce and will be based at Four’s new HQ at The Hickman, Whitechapel. Luke Alexander will become the agency’s first chief digital officer with responsibility for ensuring clients across the group get the benefit of Four’s digital expertise from websites and apps to experimental technologies and digital transformation. Abhinav Bajpai will take on a new role as head of digital technology. Both Luke and Abhinav will report to PACE chief executive, Paul Dalton-Borge. Kerry Joyce will become digital creative director.

Paul Dalton-Borge comments: “Our clients have enjoyed the benefits of Four’s proactive embrace of digital over the past decade and digital capabilities are at the heart of our strategy for the next ten years. This investment represents the next step in that journey and takes us to a level of in-house expertise normally only offered by pure-play digital agencies.”

Group managing director, Einir Williams added: “It is particularly exciting for us to have the Marmelo team join us. This transaction marks a milestone in Four’s history with the first acquisition of a company founded by a former employee of the agency. Luke began his career as a graduate trainee at Four exactly 15 years ago to the day of acquisition. We have also worked closely with Abhinav and Kerry over the years and it is great to have them all back in the fold.”

Luke Alexander said: “We could not be more proud of what Marmelo has achieved in the last six years, nor more excited to be joining Four.  As digital technologies mature - and following the sudden pivot to online ways of working in the past two years - we’re seeing a huge demand for digital transformation both in marketing and communications and at an organisational level. There couldn’t be a better time to bring our skills to Four where we can use our expertise and creativity to make a real difference.”

The acquisition is the 10th since Four successfully secured a £10m investment of equity finance from BGF (Business Growth Fund) in 2015 and its 14th acquisition overall.  Following its power of together philosophy, the agency has a strong track record of strategic acquisition and integration of specialist agencies to bring new services and expertise to its impressive roster of clients.