EXCLUSIVE: Smollan buys into Elevator
by Herman Manson (@marklives) Experiential and activation agency, Elevator, has sold a majority (50.1%) stake to retail solutions company, Smollan.
Elevator is the result of the merger of Stretch and Point Blank in early 2017. The combined agency employs roughly 50 people, with R50m in revenue. The agency has offices in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, and clients includes Cell C, Lipton Ice Tea, Chevron, Pernod Ricard and Standard Bank
WPP-aligned Smollan launched in South Africa in 1931, and has grown into an international retail solutions company with over 60 000 employees (mostly functioning as sales and merchandising forces).
Talks prior to merger
According to Mike Silver, Elevator CEO, he’d been in talks with Smollan prior to the Stretch/Point Blank merger but postponed further discussion until the new combined agency could be settled. Smollan will use Elevator to build its offering in the activations, experiential and below-the-line space. In return, Elevator gains access to Smollan’s clients and pan-African footprint.
Silver says the deal adds weight to the Elevator brand and product offering and will allow the agency to grow into other markets on the continent.
Michael Smollan, chief growth and innovation officer at Smollan, says Elevator fills a real gap in expertise at the retail solutions company, which had previously tried and failed to build a similar service organically. The merger that resulted in Elevator created enough mass to become of real interest to the agency. Smollan also likes Silver’s vision for the business, considers his team sharp and passionate, and likes the cultural fit.
More-evolved set of services
According to Smollan, his business has great relationships with brands across the globe, and Elevator provides a more-evolved set of services to offer its clients and partners. Elevator also offers a more-creative and -experiential lens to an operationally driven organisation. Smollan sees Elevator expanding outside South Africa, with strategy and creative based here but execution happening at a local level in new markets.
The deal was concluded on 13 April 2018.
Herman Manson (@marklives) is the founder and editor of MarkLives.com.
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