Dragon Rouge has undergone a management buyout with founders Pierre Cazaux and Patrick Veyssiere ceding full control of the agency's strategy to the current leadership team. Renaud Deschamps (pictured left), group CEO, Dragon Rouge explained to MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that the management buyout came because Cazaux and Veyssiere wanted to ensure that the Dragon Rouge brand would remain and that the management team would stay in control of the business in order to perpetuate the quality of service to its loyal base of clients.
There are currently 12 managers at Dragon Rouge, including Deschamps, Kheireddine Sidhoum (pictured right), global chief creative officer and co-CEO, as well as Zayn Khan, Asia CEO. More managers will be coming on board, bringing the leadership team to approximately 40 individuals out of the 250 employees.
Dragon Rouge worked with investment fund Ciclad for the buyout and the latter currently owns a majority stake in the agency. Over time, the management team is expected to grow its stake in Dragon Rouge. Ciclad bought back the shares of the founders so they can relinquish their role as owners. Cazaux, however, reinvested in Dragon Rouge alongside the investment fund, taking on a non-operational, purely investor role.
"With the management buyout, Dragon Rouge's leadership team has strong control over its destiny and operations. Remaining independent guarantees us the advantage of flexibility and agility, agency qualities that appeal more than ever to Asian clients who are having to pivot their own businesses. at speed with focused resources," Deschamps said.
Moving forward, the agency will focus on beefing up its strategy and doubling down on acquisitions. Sidhoum also said that the leadership team has free rein in growing the team and adding more shareholders to the mix when more managers join in future.
Dragon Rouge's Asia strategy
The agency is present in Singapore, Shanghai, Warsaw, Hamburg, London, New York, Paris, and Sao Paulo. It has also worked with global brands including Coca-Cola, IKEA, Philadelphia, Rives De Seine, and Tsingtao Brewery. Currently, Asia and the US are two markets that Dragon Rouge is doubling down on, viewing them as organic and acquisition paths to growth.
The management buyout offers Dragon Rouge more freedom and willingness to expand in Asia, a region with a very competitive employment market, said Deschamps. There are currently 50 individuals in its Asia team and it constantly looks to hire senior positions in strategic planning, creative, and account management.
In addition to its Singapore and Shanghai offices, which Deschamps said are growing significantly, Dragon Rouge looks to form new partnerships and new teams on the ground. "In fact, we already have a local team in Malaysia and have our sights set on other Southeast Asia markets. We will also explore possible acquisitions of complementary firms there, as we do throughout the world," he added.
Our strategy in Asia is to become one of the strongest independent global design agencies there, supported by a deep local presence covering the region.
"Because we can now invite our most senior managers to become vested partners in the business, this gives us an advantage versus big holding companies, and enriches our talent pool to a very strong extent, to the benefit of our clients, particularly in Asia," co-CEO Sidhoum explained.
Dragon Rouge offers a range of services, including activation, identity, strategy, insight, digital, innovation, and retail. The agency is focused on expanding its services to its current global clients, leveraging its worldwide structures to work closely together.
"We will be focusing in particular on expanding these services into the US and into Asia, as we have a significant opportunity to grow within these regions," Deschamps said. It also wants to beef up its expertise in fields such as digital and this, according to Deschamps, will be done via specific hires as it plans to in-house more digital talent.
At the same time, Dragon Rouge also plans to acquire complementary businesses upstream of its current business and is constantly evaluating such targets. When asked about the type of talent and skills it is looking out for, Deschamps said: "All those driven by excellence but most importantly, those that have a cultural fit with us. But for a talent to become a Dragon, there needs to be just a little bit of magic on top."