Leading North East PR and communications agency, Karol Marketing, has announced the acquisition of Fusion PR Creative.

The strategic move will drive forward a vision to offer the very highest level of strategic communications, marketing, digital, public affairs, and public relations expertise to its regional, national, and international client base.

The buy-out builds upon significant results achieved by Fusion and Karol for existing clients across sports, renewable energy, construction and regeneration, healthcare, hospitality, and leisure industries, and helps to carve out and realise new business opportunities, enabling some of the region’s leading companies to access the very best strategic communications expertise.

Both companies will continue to operate under their respective brands within the new Group, working on behalf of their regional, national and global B2B and B2C clients.

Founded in 1992 by Stefan Lepkowski, Karol Marketing is one of the North East’s longest established integrated PR, digital, and creative communications agencies. The multi-award-winning business has consistently been recognised by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations as Small Consultancy of the Year, since 2019.

The company has secured five major new clients in the last twelve months; adding to its portfolio which includes Mental Health Concern, Eldon Square, Agilio Software, as well as leading outdoor brands Keela, Montane, Vango, EDZ, and Ventile. It has seen billings jump by 61.7%.

Fusion has also continued to show strong performance over the last two years, representing clients such as Northumbria University, The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Collaborative Newcastle, The Great North Care Record (delivered in partnership with Karol), The UK Pellet Council (Biomass Heat Works!), AkzoNobel, and Bernicia Group.

Former Fusion PR Creative managing director John McCabe was recently appointed chief executive at the North East England Chamber of Commerce and will now step down from his role at Fusion. Other members of the Fusion team will remain in key roles within the newly formed Group.

Both companies will now consolidate and strengthen their market specialisms, skills and expertise as one Group, with Karol making new investments in staff and increased resources. Combined fees for the immediate year are expected to be well into seven figures.

Group Managing Director, Stefan Lepkowski, said, “This is a strategic and purposeful move designed to reinforce and strengthen our long-standing commitment to the region, providing the very highest level of strategic communications, public affairs, marketing and PR expertise to the North East’s business community. We’re proud to work with and alongside the businesses, charities and public sector organisations that make up this thriving and vibrant part of the world.”

“Fusion is the absolute perfect fit for Karol, bringing a highly specialist and exemplar skills set to our offering for clients, especially B2B companies and public sector organisations, who may be operating on a very local level or UK-wide and beyond.”

The acquisition of Fusion PR Creative is the culmination of several strategic appointments made over the last two years by Karol Marketing. Former vice-chairman of Bond Dickinson and non-executive director, John Marshall, was appointed as an advisor to the leadership team and past NGI client and communications director, Kathie Wilcox, also joined the team on a consultancy basis as associate director, working alongside Stefan to develop the strategy and lead the team. Both John and Kathie have played key roles in securing the deal.

Mr. Lepkowski continued: “By working as we do in the way that we do, both companies have achieved huge results for clients, whether it be growing their business and market share, lobbying Government, delivering crisis comms, developing strategy or getting them talked about and seen (positively) by their target customers. Much of our work is done behind the scenes, but the results speak for themselves, and we have become integral to many organisations by adding considerable value. By investing in our team, we anticipate that these results will get even better, and both businesses will continue to thrive.”

“I want the Karol Marketing Group to play an integral role in delivering marketing and communications services to North East based business and organisations and, to that end, I will be embarking on a recruitment drive aimed at attracting the very best talent, to support what I already firmly believe, is the best group of communications experts in the North.”

Commenting on the deal, John McCabe said: “I’m very pleased to have concluded the sale of Fusion to Karol Marketing. It’s almost nine years to the day since I launched Fusion and in that time the business has grown way beyond my initial expectations. We’ve created good jobs for good, talented people, won awards for our work, and had the pleasure of working with fantastic clients. It’s good to know I’m leaving the business in very strong shape, and in very good hands, with a bright, exciting future ahead.

“I have great admiration for Stefan and Karol Marketing.  It’s a business which has stood the test of time but as Stefan has shown with the purchase of Fusion and the other appointments he has made to his team, it continues to innovate and stay at the top. I wish Stefan and his new team all the very best for the future and I’m confident great things lie in store for this outstanding business.”

Karol Marketing was advised by Stephen Slater of RMT accountants, with Fusion PR Creative being advised by Stephen Willis of Robson Laidler. Legal services were provided by Paul Bell of Short Richardson and Forth, and Robert Phillips of Womble Bond Dickinson respectively.