HOWARD & COMPANY HELPS DIGITAL MESSAGING FIRM, JERICHO EXPAND OFFSHORE

Jericho is a market leader and multi-award winning New Zealand business that offers sophisticated digital messaging solutions.
For 12 years the privately owned company, employing 35 staff members, has been recognised for delivering from its Auckland office, smart, targeted and relevant email, mobile and social media campaigns to over 500 business clients, including some of New Zealand’s largest businesses.

In January 2012 Jericho entered a partnership with Asia Pacific Digital, one of the region’s largest digital services companies founded by expatriate Roger Sharp. The Jericho brand now has a presence in Melbourne, Sydney and Singapore and will soon be in Kuala Lumpur. It was 100% acquired by Asia Pacific Digital in March 2013.

According to former CEO Jeff Mann, who founded Jericho in 2000, Howard & Company played a major role in its success both locally and internationally, “Howard & Company are leaders in NZ business advisory services with a unique point of difference. There are many technically competent advisors in the market but few are capable of making a significant change to your business. They were instrumental in assisting Jericho expand its horizons and become an international brand.”

How it all began….

Jeff and co-owner of Jericho Roanne Parker were initially introduced to Howard & Company in 2006 when it was participating in a business improvement programme aimed at growing tech companies that were top performers and had solid foundations for growth. The advisors on the business improvement programme recommended Jericho seek expertise from an external advisory board for the long term sustainable growth of its business.

John Quirk, a Director of Howard & Company and a former CEO of multinational ICT companies sat on the Jericho Board and immediately saw its high growth potential, “We were impressed with Jericho, particularly the SmartMail Pro platform and the robust business model that had been created. It has an incredibly competent and capable team and fitted our target client profile of high tech, high growth potential.”

Overtime Jericho built up a strong relationship with John Quirk and decided to remain with him and his corporate advisory firm Howard & Company, “John is great at synthesising information quickly, he has a lot of knowledge of IT and IT structures as well as strong expertise in strategy development. He is a ‘hands-off advisor’, not caught up in the detail of the business but ready to offer clear, clean advice and look at the overall performance of a company,” said Jeff Mann.

Roanne Parker, says John Quirk proved to be a great facilitator from the start “He was a brilliant sounding board and is an incredibly calm person who has a natural ability to make you understand what the company needs to do to improve and grow, without telling you directly. In other words, he has a way of enabling companies to ask their own questions and come up with their own solutions. ”

Providing solutions for the workplace…

John Quirk’s hands-off approach has proved beneficial for Jericho over the long term. Howard & Company, acting as corporate advisors, met with Jericho regularly over a four year period until it became a market leader in New Zealand and started talking about expanding offshore. Once again it turned to Howard & Company for help with entering offshore markets and finding a suitable investment partner.

Connecting the dots…

Jericho wanted to work in a location that was near the South Pacific or Australia and with a business that was already in digital marketing, understood their culture and had similar assets in the market. It was a tight brief so Jericho appreciated that it could be a very slow and difficult process to find the perfect match.

Howard & Company did not disappoint. In October 2011 they began working through an in-depth process which focused on helping Jericho with a strategy to maximise the value of their business. This involved holding sessions to find the most strategic buyer for Jericho, approaching some ICT companies, advertising agencies and even some of Jericho’s direct competitors.

Opportunity knocks…

After an intensive six month process, Howard & Company introduced them to  expatriate New Zealander Roger Sharp, the CEO of Asia Pacific Digital, one of the region’s largest digital services companies, with annual revenues exceeding $100m and more than 750 staff in 14 offices across 8 Asia Pacific Rim countries.

Although Asia Pacific Digital was growing in Australia and Singapore, it wasn’t particularly interested in NZ at that time but after speaking with Howard & Company it was impressed with Jericho and realised it could provide a more sophisticated product – something Asia Pacific Digital was missing. For Jericho, Asia Pacific Digital was a perfect match. It already had the staff, resources and channels to market internationally, and was happy to replicate their Smart Mail Pro platform and Jericho services model.

Providing the keys to a successful outcome…

Howard & Company then assisted with the due diligence process and the merger & acquisition discussions, guiding Jericho through every stage of the sale process with tight, professional engagement. Throughout this process, Howard & Company managed to keep highly confidential information under the radar and minimise the risk of disclosure to competitors and disruption to the business.

In January 2012 Jericho officially executed a multi-million dollar expansion following the partnership with Asia Pacific Digital and the launch of its operations throughout the Asia Pacific region.

Roanne Parker recommends Howard & Company to other NZ businesses looking to expand on the international stage: “We were fortunate enough to develop a deep and broad relationship with Howard & Company over the years. From day one, we found them incredibly engaging, professional and extremely committed to helping our company succeed.”