Penna acquires Barkers from administrator

At 11:30am on Monday 29th June, it was announced that Barkers Group Limited had been taken into administration and that its business, tangible assets and good will had been purchased by Penna plc.

The deal, priced at £8.6m, is for all of the Barkers Group and TCS.  And although Barkers had already made a fair number of redundancies to date this year, all remaining Barkers and TCS staff and management - numbering around 250 in total - are being offered employment on the same terms and conditions that they previously enjoyed.

Penna plc chief executive Gary Browning told Ri5: "We are proud to be associated with such an established and distinguished brand, and look forward to complementing Barkers' skills with the breadth of a successful consulting group."  He added that, given Penna's wider offering, the proposition for clients should be a very interesting one.

The deal was concluded exceptionally quickly, with contact first being made over the last ten days or so.  Of the three serious bidders for the business, it was Penna who proved successful.

The deal is so recent that neither clients nor media have been communicated with as yet.  But Anne Riley, MD of Penna Creative Communications, says that everybody's first priority is to make sure that all Barkers' and TCS' clients continue to receive the great standards of service they are used to.  "It's very much business as usual," she told Ri5.  "We're placing orders as of now, and the business is backed by Penna which has substantial resources behind it.  The message for clients is that the level of service will be as good as before, if not better."

As for the Barkers and TCS brands, no decision has been made as yet on their future.  "From today the businesses will be trading as Penna Barkers and Penna TCS," said Anne.  "Over the next 90 days we'll be looking at how best to make our businesses fit together.  There will be a lot of work to do over the next few weeks before we're able to make any further announcements."

Monday, 29 June 2009

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Louisa Peacock Date: Jul 3, 2009

Thanks 'Anon.' Yes, I do work on Personnel Today...

Anonymous Date: Jul 3, 2009

And perhaps your tel number so people can contact you anonymously and perhaps just leave a number if you are not around. After all, one's email address tends to give away their name.

Jon Dobinson Date: Jul 3, 2009

As someone who was at Barkers around 15 years ago and worked with some of the people who were still there last week, I'm keen to organise some help for those who have suddenly found themselves without redundancy, expenses, and pensions. Having contacted a few of my former colleagues, I know there are others at agencies throughout the industry who feel the same way. With that in mind, I am looking at ways that we might put together a lifeboat fund to offer emergency help to those who need it. My agency has its business mostly outside recruitment, but will contribute and if others would like to do the same, please get in contact via At this stage, I have no idea about how successful this will be, but hopefully this will be an opportunity for those who, like me, have great respect and affection for former colleagues at a once-great agency to show their support. This is not intended to imply any position in the debate about who has acted well or badly in what has happened - I'm not in a position to know and wouldn't comment - it's simply a recognition that this is an exceptional situation and we should do what we can as an industry for those worst affected. If you would like to be involved, please get in touch.

Claire Sloan Date: Jul 3, 2009

Jon - what an absolutely stand up guy you are. I think you have a superb idea there. If only the SMT would take a leaf out of your book.

idowords Date: Jul 3, 2009

I'm in a position to put the names of copywriters affected by all of this under the nose of someone who MAY be able to offer them freelance work. Get in touch with me - including CV, examples of work, etc - via the email address on my website:

Anonymous Date: Jul 3, 2009

Tribal are looking for Account Co-Ordinators too...

Anonymous Date: Jul 3, 2009

You may want to read this more recent article on Ri5 Barkers deal: Penna Chief sets the record straight

Anonymous Date: Jul 3, 2009

It still begs the question why, in the knowledge that administration beckoned, were those that were made redundant on that Thursday given letters stating that they would be paid off? No amount of goodwill gestures of workshops and online tools can replace lost income.

Anonymous Date: Jul 3, 2009

We know the Penna side of the story and we've heard the views of countless ex-Barkers employees. Can we now move on? This is an industry information site and work continues. By all means rally support for your cause, but take it to Facebook. If only these entries had a 'tweet' limit, we wouldn't be presented with mind-numbing 3,000 word diatribes.

Anonymous Date: Jul 3, 2009

What a crass and insensitive comment just posted before this one. I take it you're not affected. How nice for you.

Anonymous Date: Jul 3, 2009

I'm not a TCS/Barkers/Penna ex employee and i don't work in Recruitment Advertising, but i am one of the many people affected by this discraceful situation. I am the wife of someone who has lost a huge amount because of the lack of morals of some 'succesful business people' (read immoral), and the mother of an 18 month old who is currently at a lovely nursery that we will no longer be able to afford. I don't know how we will pay the mortgage and i have no idea how will pay the bills but i do know that because of what the Barkers board have done and what Penna have so far refused to do, we are now in a position - as are others - that makes me honestly feel sick to my stomach. We don't really know the in's and out's of who said what and when, or how much Penna truly believe that they have done the right thing or not, but what I do know is that hardworking, honest and talented people, their husbands or wives and children are really, genuinely suffering because of the utter break of trust, disloyalty and immoral act of a group of individuals. All of which i think its fair to say are never likely to understand what it feels like to suddenly be scared of losing theirs and their childrens home because of a situation utterly out of their control and absolutely not of their doing. So, for those people asking disgruntled ex employees to stop complaining and for the person who has commented that we should move on - i personally would love to, but the truth is, at the moment we can't, we are trapped in a very personal financial nightmare that, i think, we are well within our rights to be quite vocally angry about - wherever we see fit.

Anonymous Date: Jul 3, 2009

And can I just add that these comments are from the whole of the industry. The whole of the industry is disgusted at what's happened and what continues to be drawn out each day. We whole heartedly supported all of the ex Barkers people that have been left financially ruined by the corruption and greed of those that made these decisions. How can you live with what you've done?

Anonymous Date: Jul 3, 2009

I'd just really like HR to start returning my phone calls. COMMUNICATION please.

Anonymous Date: Jul 3, 2009

"We know the Penna side of the story and we've heard the views of countless ex-Barkers employees. Can we now move on? etc etc." Read something else then. Work does not, in fact, continue for all of us.

Anonymous Date: Jul 3, 2009

To the person asking for communication from HR - don't bother with Barkers, they won't get back to you, but Penna HR are far more helpful.

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Penna acquires Barkers from administrator