PARIS — Independent French PR consultancy Wellcom has changed leadership after a management buyout, with founder Thierry Wellhoff passing the torch to new chairman and CEO Philippe Lucas.

Lucas (pictured, third left), who has worked alongside Wellhoff (left) since 1996 as general manager, is now the majority 55% shareholder in the business, which has a team of 120 and last year had turnover of more than €15 million.

Wellhoff retains around 10% of the shares and will support Lucas through a transition period until next year, when the agency celebrates its 40th birthday. Wellhoff said: “I am proud to have led the agency to what it has now become: the first independent structure in its field, and above all, I am proud of the team of people who provide the agency with its talent and expertise.

“In more than 20 years working with Philippe Lucas, we have both transformed Wellcom to adapt it to new communication requirements. I have full confidence that Philippe will pursue what we have built together, and consolidate our market leader position.”

The MBO, which was completed last summer, was backed by Crédit Mutuel Equity and the CIC and BNP Paribas banks, with support from corporate finance advisory firm DDA&Company. The private equity shareholding is around 25%.

In his new role, Lucas is supported by the agency’s five existing partners, who hold 10% of the shares between them: influence and crisis specialists Stéphanie Bastide (second right) and Caroline Langlais (second left); brand and positioning advisors Sylvie Aduriz (right) and François Belz (centre), as well as senior advisor Jean-Baptiste de Bellescize.

Lucas told PRovoke: “The partners are the strength of the project as we have been working together for a very long time. They are all behind me and have invested in the MBO.”

He added: “My goal is to continue the job Thierry and I started. We really want to strengthen Wellcom around the two pillars of brand strategy and influence strategy, as well as developing content, creativity and digital influence.”

One of the tools the agency has developed to support this new positioning is L'Observatoire du Sens, a research platform that helps clients articulate their positioning and purpose, as well as the expectations of their employees and audiences.

Wellcom’s clients, which span various industry sectors, include Total, Google, Nivea, Logitech, French renewable energy company Engie and Randstad.