Ingram buys Unity for consultancy start-up

Chris Ingram is making a return to the marketing services arena. His new consultancy, The Ingram Partnership, aims to provide clients with independent, integrated marketing and communications advice underpinned by the sort of skills offered by management consultants.

The new venture has bought the strategic communications company Unity and the branding agency The Gathering to help form the core of its proposition.

Unity's Andy Tilley and Ivan Pollard and The Gathering's Duncan Bruce and Marc Cox join TIP as founding partners, all receiving 50 per cent of their company's value in cash and 50 per cent in shares in the new consultancy.

Ingram has also wooed Ditlev Schwanenflugel, an ex-McKinsey management consultant, as a partner and Alastair Rhymer, formerly at WPP, as the finance director.

The new company will be backed by a top-flight advisory board including Richard Eyre, the former chief of ITV, Terry Neill, the former chairman of the worldwide board of Accenture, and Andrew Seth, the former chairman of Lever Brothers.

Ingram, who pocketed £64 million when he sold his Tempus communications group to WPP in 2001, has already committed £10 million of his own money to the venture. TIP is now considering further acquisitions to broaden the consultancy's offering.

The company opens for business with a client list that includes Carphone Warehouse, Cadbury Schweppes, Bosch, B&Q and Kraft.

Ingram said the company would offer a new model for integrated business and marketing advice, harnessing the business skills of management consultants with the branding insight of agencies.

"We are offering senior management a real alternative," Ingram said. "This is about building brands in a business context," he explained, adding that TIP will place emphasis on the measurement and benchmarking of results to ensure strategic advice is properly delivered.

- Close-up, p16.