Fundraising agencies Pell & Bales and Pure to be sold

The sales are likely to be completed by the end of June, according to their owner

Telephone fundraising
Telephone fundraising

The telephone fundraising agencies Pell & Bales and Pure Associates are to be sold, its owner has confirmed.

Tony Strong, chief executive of the business process outsourcing firm Parseq, which acquired Pell & Bales in 2013 and Pure the following year, told Third Sector they were being sold because their clients had indicated a preference for working with "boutique" telephone fundraising agencies rather than with corporations.

He said the sale was likely to be completed by the end of June, but he would not say how much the companies would be sold for or disclose the name of the buyer at this stage.

Clients of Pell & Bales include the British Red Cross, Cancer Research UK, the NSPCC and the RNIB, according to the agency’s website.

Pell & Bales is yet to publish its accounts for 2015, but its latest published figures show profits fell by almost 80 per cent, from £1.2m in 2013 to £267,000 the following year.

Pure was in administration when it was acquired by Parseq in 2013 and was subsequently wound up. Parseq continued to use the Pure brand, which traded as a division of the parent company.

Pell & Bales has been in a corporate voluntary arrangement – an agreement to pay only part of the debts it owes – since 2011, when it was owned by the marketing and communications company the Panther Group. According to a document filed with Companies House, the agency renegotiated the terms of this agreement in recent months so that its creditors would receive 31p in the pound each month rather than the 35p that was originally agreed.

Strong said yesterday that Parseq intended to settle Pell & Bales’s debts in full before the agency was sold.

He said staff at both Pell & Bales and Pure would transfer to the new owners and it had been agreed that there would be no redundancies at the two agencies, which employ a total of 276 people. Pell & Bales’s 2014 accounts said it had 314 employees at that time.

Strong said the three most senior staff members who would lead Pell & Bales and Pure under their new ownership were operations director Lianne Sims, client services director Bethan Francis and HR manager Peter Hros.

"It became obvious that this business would be better served by specialists in that field as opposed to sitting as part of Parseq," Strong said. "The right thing to do was to sell that business and focus on what we’re good at and let the new owners focus on what they’re good at."

Staff at the two agencies were informed about the negotiations at 2pm on Wednesday and clients were sent an email entitled "Pell & Bales and Pure return to being a niche not-for-profit supplier" by Craig Smith, Parseq’s managing director of finance and administration and not for profit, an hour later.

The email says: "We felt that Pell & Bales’s and Pure’s futures would be best secured outside of the group, which will also allow us to concentrate on our core, more corporate NFP proposition, of inbound voice and finance & administration services. For clients and Pell & Bales and Pure employees it is business as usual."

It says clients will be contacted again in a couple of weeks to arrange a time to meet and discuss how Parseq can support them in the future.

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