It is a digital marketing agency that is starting to think big. The French Labelium has just acquired the American firm 1000heads for more than 100 million euros. This is the most important takeover operation since the creation of this group, which saw the light of day in 2001. platforms, monitoring tools, explains Sylvain Bonnevide, CEO and co-founder of Labelium. This complements what we have been doing for years on these platforms, including ad buying. »
Before the rise of social networks, the French agency was first positioned on search engines, and therefore Google given the omnipotence of the group. “Our core expertise is the optimization of the natural and paid referencing of brands on search engines”, emphasizes Sylvain Bonnevide, whose company targets large SMEs, especially when they want to deploy internationally. Today, this activity still represents the majority of Labelium’s turnover.
After having expanded for a long time through organic growth, the group began to make acquisitions in 2016 with the acquisition of the Bordeaux firm Feed Manager (management of product catalogs on Google). Arcane (paid referencing agency), SmartKeyword (natural referencing), Kiliagon (specialized agency on Amazon)…: in all, Labelium has acquired eight companies over the past six years.
A valuation of nearly 300 million euros
This change in strategy also led to a change in the capital structure of the group. “We had reached a stage where either we were absorbed by a bigger agency than us, or we participated in the consolidation of the market”, notes Stéphane Levy, founder and president of Labelium, who opted for the second option and has chosen to open up its capital to funds to finance this new strategy.
As of 2014, Isai Gestion and Keensight Capital thus entered with nearly 40%. A stake then bought by Qualium Investissement in 2018. Since last year, the British fund Charterhourse has been the majority controlling shareholder, an operation which has valued the French agency nearly 300 million euros.
This allowed Labelium to have a nice pile of cash to finance the acquisition of 1000heads in particular. With this acquisition, the consolidated group will exceed 100 million euros in turnover during the current financial year. Profitable, Labelium should cross the threshold of 1,000 employees at the end of the year. Today, the agency’s main market – which is present in fifteen countries – is France, ahead of the United States and Canada. And the group does not intend to stop its external growth policy in such a good way.