WilsonCooke has grown by 35 per cent during the pandemic and is preparing for acquisitions.

Manchester-based brand, digital and marketing agency WilsonCooke has been in business over 30 years, providing branding and digital strategy services to a number of sectors. Clients include Thomas Cook Sport, Co-op Superstores and Jigsaw Homes.

Starting 2020 with a turnover of £1.4 million, the company was performing well, however it wanted to be in an even stronger position for growth and so Managing Director, Mark Law, looked at outsourcing its finance function. He says “Our external accountant and in-house bookkeeper had been working well but their range of expertise was limited, plus they didn’t have a thorough grasp of agency business.” Mark heard about MAP – an outsourced finance function for digital creative agencies – from another Manchester agency, and quickly realised the company could provide the full finance service it needed, from the day-to-day management of accounts through to strategic business services. “As an agency-specific finance partner that fully understood our business landscape, we were excited about how much value the MAP team could add”, says Law.

Moving to MAP in a pandemic

WilsonCooke approached MAP in March 2020 and fully migrated to the company in the April. At this point, the UK was in full lockdown and the situation was looking bleak with the agency initially experiencing a downturn in business. However MAP quickly and effectively set-up WilsonCooke’s finances so that it could better navigate the pandemic.

“The strong and sophisticated financial systems and controls MAP put in place provided the foundations for our growth” says Law. ” With the backing and expertise of MAP, we had the confidence to continue to invest in the agency, and during 2020 took on eight new people, taking us to 18 employees.”

WilsonCooke also began a company restructure, splitting the business into two distinct divisions – a brand performance division and a tech division. MAP provided financial guidance and support throughout this transition.

Growth despite global uncertainty

As the pandemic and various lockdowns continued, WilsonCooke began to see growth. Its cash position was being strengthened, credit control was better than ever and invoice financing was no longer required. The agency was also saving money as a result of moving to MAP, further improving its financial position.

The use of MAP-recommended technologies that wrap around WilsonCooke’s Xero finance system helped to automate various processes and provide valuable real-time insights.

“We’re no longer relying on cashflow forecasting spreadsheets and I now have instant access to the data needed for running and growing the business” says Law.

A year after first starting with MAP, WilsonCooke has seen 35 per cent growth with increased profits and a higher cash position. As the agency had a much slower COVID recovery forecast, this exceeded expectations.

Acquisitions at the ready!

With its sights set on continued growth, MAP will be supporting Wilson Cooke with both organic growth and acquisitions.

Law adds “With MAP, we’re getting the perfect balance of day-to-day accounting and strategic advice in one outsourced function, effectively supporting our everyday operations and business ambitions. As we gear-up for acquisitions, MAP will play a fundamental role in providing the guidance and sophisticated reporting needed to ensure success.”