Behind the scenes of the drp acquisition of HMX

We look at the drp acquisition of HMX to reveal where film sits in the strategy.

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The drp acquisition of HMX could make you think Dale Parmenter, founder and CEO of drp, would feel it’s time to take his foot off the pedal. You’d be wrong. We caught up with him to find out why.

drp don’t stand still

drp has grown at breakneck speed for many years. Originally a small corporate video and events production company, drp lost substantial business after the 9/11 attacks in 2001 as one of their major clients was from the travel sector. The switch in strategy caught the wave of rapid expansion as they targeted new clients in other sectors.

Fuelled by organic growth in live comms, drp added video production back into its service mix. It acquired GROSVENORFILM in 2013, events agency Penguins in 2017 and now HMX Corporate Communication. In 2016 revenue increased 14% to hit £16.5m and headcount reached 180. The growth didn’t stop there.

The HMX acquisition fits with drp’s strategy. The HMX team, headed by Tim Horrox, will remain in place and the brand will be retained. They mostly work as a virtual team so will use drp’s office in Covent Garden as a base, drawing on resources at the Hartlebury HQ in Worcestershire when needed. So why did drp acquire them?

Dale Parmenter - drp acquisition of HMX 'is a good fit'
Dale Parmenter- ‘The days of high video budgets have passed’

HMX is a small outfit and has been going for many years, predominantly providing film and video services,’ says Parmenter. ‘Their specialist area is in professional and financial services, an area we have targeted. It’s a good fit.’

Where does moving image fit?

Parmenter doesn’t see a standalone moving image offering as the way forward. He thinks the days of high video budgets have passed and comms professionals are happy with lower budget film if it meets business objectives. ‘There’s more use of motion graphics and many videos have no live action,’ he adds. ‘Our motion graphics team has grown to five people and other providers need to adapt. There’s a big opportunity to bring professional broadcast skills into webinars and virtual meetings.’

It’s not a view that is shared by every brand video professional (you can see other agency views here). drp’s strategy is very different to the type of agency offering that leads with deep expertise in creative film-making, keeps overheads low and buys in freelance resource for each project.

Instead, drp aim for a conversation at the top table directly with senior brand stakeholders. That means offering a strategic communications service that integrates every medium and channel. They own the whole supply chain to achieve quality, consistency and longevity with the client. ‘Clients don’t seem to have the in-house resource any more, so we provide that,’ adds Parmenter.

The numbers game

Whether or not you agree with the strategy, it’s hard to argue with the numbers. drp’s 2017 accounts will show £21m revenue, a jump of 30%. 2018 revenue is expected to accelerate even faster to £30m and there’s an aim to hit £45m in 2020. Headcount grew by 70 in 2017, supported by heavy investment in systems at the 4.5 acre Hartlebury studio (a former Spitfire factory).

The balance sheet means drp could handle more acquisitions. ‘We are talking to another couple of companies, I’m being contacted almost every week,’ says Parmenter. ‘But it has to be the right cultural fit, it has to be a partnership. If it is, we maintain the identity and let it build and develop. We don’t meddle.’

So when is he going to take his foot off the pedal? He still enjoys the job and will only stop when he is no longer offering anything to business. ‘I tried and failed to work nine to five, and I’m ambitious for next 12 months,’ he argues. He says business is about succession, and drp are a developing a number of young people in the company, including two younger Parmenters.

There’s room for more expansion in Hartlebury and the drp client list and resource base seem certain to increase further. Maintaining such a rapid growth rate won’t get any easier in the long term, but for now the pedal is firmly on the metal.


drp and HMX are featured in Moving Image Directory, the unique invitation-only list of verified brand film specialists.