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Brand Consultancy Decides to Bring in Growth Fund Investment to Support Service Evolution

The UK’s longest-standing independent brand consultancy is shaping up to build on the opportunities offered by the digital age with the support of a substantial six-figure investment from The Finance for Business North East Growth Fund.

DECIDE. is a pan-European creative consultancy specialising in shopper marketing and packaging design for physical and digital environments within the Fast Moving Consumer Good (FMCG) sector.

The Newcastle-based firm, which has recently rebranded from its previous name of The Design Group, already works with many of the FMCG sector’s leading names, including Procter & Gamble, Nestle, Walkers, Dr Oetker and Boots.

After completing a strategic review of its services and capabilities, DECIDE. is now aiming to move from the present position in the top 20 of UK independent agencies to challenge the firms at the top of the list.

To support the execution of its development plans, DECIDE.’s management team worked with regional fund management firm, NEL Fund Managers, which administers the Growth Fund, to secure a £350,000 investment, and was advised on the deal by Newcastle-based Ryecroft Glenton Corporate Finance, alongside Square One Law LLP.

DECIDE. will use the investment to implement new tools and methodologies for its client campaigns, which have been developed as part of its continuing strategic planning and research partnership with Durham University Business School.

Alongside the strategic recruitment of staff with specific skills in digital strategy and content development, DECIDE. will continue investment in its education and training programme, which has already sponsored employees undertaking Masters programmes in Design, Marketing, Digital and Management at DUBS, Northumbria and London South Bank.

Originally founded in 1953, DECIDE. works both nationally and internationally, and is aiming to increase its activity across Europe as part of its future strategic development.

Managing Director Jerry Hall says: “The North East marketing sector is unrecognisable from how it was five years ago, with many of the best-known names now much diminished or gone completely, but by maintaining a national focus during these difficult times, we’ve been able to remain successful.

“Our recent rebrand was a function of a comprehensive review into our whole way of working and the methods we use to meet our clients’ creative and commercial objectives, and it has given us a sound business plan which is capable of adapting what we do to the ever-changing needs of the digital landscape.

“While the vast majority of our work comes from outside the region, we’re still very much headquartered in the North East, as we have been for almost six decades, and we’ll be continuing to tap into the region’s very strong digital capabilities as a way of sustaining and enhancing our operations here.

“The Growth Fund provided the right investment option for us, and the NEL, Ryecroft Glenton and Square One Law teams have all been great right through the application process – they understand our business inside out, and I can’t praise them highly enough.”

Jane Siddle, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “The vast experience and enviable client list that DECIDE. enjoys provides a fantastic base from which the business can move into its next stage of development, and reinforce its position in the vanguard of the digital marketing industry.”

James Bryce corporate partner at Square One Law LLP, who led the team advising DECIDE., adds: “It was fantastic to be part of the next phase of growth for DECIDE., a local business making an international impact in the sector, and Jerry and his team have a great story and exciting plans for the future.

“At Square One Law, we identify strongly with the growth company story and have extensive experience on advising growth and venture capital funding across a range of sectors.”

Carl Swansbury, Director at Ryecroft Glenton Corporate Finance, and Abu Ali, Corporate Finance Senior led the team advising DECIDE.

Abu Ali says: “This is a great result for an outstanding regional business. We have worked with Jerry Hall and DECIDE.’s management team to develop a growth plan, introduced the business to potential investors, and the resulting six figure investment from NEL provides the business with the ability to deliver its growth aspirations.

“It’s great news that such a well-established company is now in a position to be able to invest and grow further after almost six decades of trading from the North East.”

Aimed at regional businesses which are at a development and growth stage, the Growth Fund forms part of the wider Finance for Business North East Fund.

Managed by North East Finance, it will see £125m of investment capital injected into the region by the European Investment Bank and the European Regional Development Fund 2007-13 over a five year period.

NEL is looking to make around 130 investments over the five-year life span of the Growth Fund, and is actively looking to speak to ambitious north east companies with robust business plans.

The ERDF 2007-13 programme is bringing over £300m into North East England to support innovation, enterprise and business support. It will help create and safeguard 28,000 new jobs, start 3,000 new businesses and increase the region’s productivity by £1.1bn per annum.

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