Richmond & Towers – Our EO Story: Coming together with the pioneering attitude that has kept us 90 years young

92 years on, we should have disappeared long ago

Marketing agencies – advertising, PR, and the other disciplines – like to present themselves as solid, permanent, trustworthy businesses, but they are essentially ephemeral.

A group of people think they might work well together, and launch an agency. If they are talented and lucky, it flourishes, perhaps for five, maybe 10, or even 15 years. Then times change, people – and clients – move on, founders look for exits, and they sell up, merge, go bust, or just slowly fade away.

For an agency to be founded in 1930 and still to be trading – indeed flourishing – in 2022 and with the original founders’ names still above the door is remarkable. In fact, we think it’s unique.

Richmond & Towers is that agency, specialising in brand engagement using PR (or ‘publicity’ as they called it in 1930) and digital, and now serving a wide range of mainly food and drink clients, with brilliant results.

So we must be doing something right, but what? Good, often great, work, of course. No agency deserves to survive unless it delivers that. We’ve helped to create campaigns, launch brands, and build whole new categories. If you are familiar with the term plant-based, for example, it’s because we used it first.

But the real secret to success is more than just stunning results; first and foremost, it’s the people.

When Suzanne Richmond and Marjorie Towers united to form the agency in 1930s’ Bloomsbury, they sowed the seeds of something special: a business that has always been about its people, and a business that was and is determined to maintain its independence. Those two facts are closely linked. (And, you’ll notice, a female-founded business too. We were different then, and we’re different now).

The first three changes of ownership, in 1958, 1978 and 2005, were management buyouts. The most recent, in October 2019, saw Richmond & Towers become 100% employee owned with the formation of an EOT. Major though that step was, it felt much more like an evolution than a revolution.

What it means to us

Here’s what one of our 30 owners and colleagues wrote on EO Day last year:

“Becoming an EOT was yet another innovative decision the agency made to keep one step ahead in the world of PR and communications. So, what has it been like to own my own PR agency? With the world recently being turned on its head and suffering a global pandemic never experienced before, Covid-19 has been a test of our strength in every aspect, but with the UK economy and businesses taking a major hit, coming together as an employee-owned company has been absolutely crucial.

“Not only does R&T have an unbreakable communal bond inside and outside of the office walls, but now more than ever we are working together, for each other, for the same goal and for each other’s gain. A benefit of being employee owned is the full transparency in day-to-day running of the business and I think I speak for every owner when I say that during Covid-19, we have consistently been in the loop. Each month at our Ownership Meetings (via Zoom), we have been regularly updated on current figures, finances, uncertainties, successes, and future plans.

“With some of our clients thriving, teams have adapted and engaged in new projects as a united workforce, with a common goal in mind, to deliver the best results, not just as an individual, as a collective. R&T, now as an EOT, has truly demonstrated the upmost resilience, adaptability and productivity as our owners have come together with the pioneering attitude that has been keeping us 90 years young. On EO Day we will be raising a glass to our future as equal owners, knowing whatever life throws at us next…we got this!”

It was a virtual ‘cheers’ last year, but this year we’ll celebrate in person.

We’ll not only be celebrating our solidarity as owners, but our success as an employee-owned business. In the last two years income is up by 14% and profit by 36%. Staff turnover is down too.

We take nothing for granted, but being employee owned gives us the business strength we need to look forward with confidence. Maybe even to the next 92 years!

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