Halifax agency Colour sold to The CHR Group

Colour retains Atlantic Canada and Toronto management teams, plans to open in NYC

David Brown July 09, 2015

The CHR Group, a New York–based independent communications holding company with deep Canadian roots, has added a little Colour to the mix.

Created by the founders of Winnipeg’s ClarkHuot and Coccoon Branding, The CHR Group opened its doors in New York City in late 2012 and has been busy adding small and mid-size agency brands to its stable since then. The latest addition comes with the just-announced acquisition of Halifax-based Colour and its 30 employees.

The CHR model sees the member agencies partnering together to handle clients and accounts that would be too large for them working on their own. “The model presents a great opportunity for mid-size agencies,” said Colour CEO Chris Keevil.

Long an agency leader in Atlantic Canada, Colour expanded to Toronto in 2010 and now generates 40% of its revenue from clients outside the region.

“We have had some success growing out of our roots here in Atlantic Canada. But we wanted to keep expanding… And to do that we needed access to a network of relationships,” said Keevil. “We can take our specialty we have developed in social engagement and introduce that to other CHR clients.”

Formed by Steve Parker in Halifax in 1977, Colour got its start as a PR and advertising agency Corporate Communications Limited (CCL). The firm rebranded as Colour in 2004 and has been increasingly focused on social engagement since 2008, working with clients like Nestlé, GlaxoSmithKline, Agropur and The Canadian Olympic Foundation.

Keevil took over as majority shareholder from Parker in 2010 and will become a member of The CHR Group’s board of directors.

Keevil said he first reached out to The CHR Group about a year ago. “I had never heard of CHR before and I saw an announcement of an acquisition they made so I sent an email to introduce myself, congratulate them and find out more. I wasn’t looking to join, but I was curious,” he said. By December they started discussing Colour joining The CHR Group.

“This team has a proven track record of innovation in communications over the last decade,” said Peter Clark, CEO of The CHR Group, in a release. “With social media, creative and communications expertise, Colour is a fantastic addition to The CHR Group.”

CHR’s executive team includes Edmond Huot, Kyle Romaniuk and Chris Clarke, all of whom worked with Clark at ClarkHuot and Cocoon Branding in Winnipeg.

Keevil said he believes CHR’s roots in Canada, and more specifically Winnipeg, bode well for their future together.

“We are from Atlantic Canada and they are from Winnipeg, also not the centre of any universe, so we both have that kind of scrappy attitude and I like that.”

Colour will retain the same management team in Atlantic Canada and Toronto and open an office in New York. Joining Keevil as shareholders in the CHR Group will be Colour’s Rob Batherson, managing partner of Colour PR; Sarah Flynn, vice-president of Colour Creative; and Savior Joseph, vice-president of Colour Social and Digital.