LONDON — Warren Johnson has sold the majority of shares in W Communications to a government-approved Employee Ownership Trust (EOT), as the independent PR firm sets its sights on further global expansion. 

While the exact proportion of shares sold remains undisclosed, the deal is understood to value the fast-growing agency at approximately £40m. W reported fee income of more than £16m in 2023, across operations in London, New York, Singapore, and Riyadh.

“As one of the most sought-after independent PR agencies, I have received many offers to buy this business," said Johnson. "I only wanted to pursue a sale if it meant enabling the agency to unlock another level of value to ensure my  W colleagues benefited in the long term. The option of an EOT was clearly the best way to benefit all parties and set the foundation for another 15 years of growth."

The new ownership will reward employees with direct participation and greater opportunities to contribute to the agency’s development. In addition, agency staff can receive tax-free bonuses, up to a value of £3,600.

Johnson, who founded W 15 years ago, will continue as CEO, working with W's senior leadership team. The agency will retain its focus on strategic M&A, having acquired Lotus and Franses in recent years, along with its W Capital incubator — which supports various businesses within the hospitality, digital retail, and sustainability sectors. 

In particular, W is expected to expand its footprint beyond Riyadh into the GCC region, along with North America and Southeast Asia. 

W's client roster spans consumer, technology and corporate, including such names as Unilever, Sony, Disney, Adidas, Tinder, Nobu, Speedo, British Airways, Spotify, Levi’s, Chanel, The Independent and Deliveroo. A perennial Agency of the Year contender The firm was named UK and Global Consumer Agency of the Year by PRovoke Media in 2023.