Grass Roots fuels expansion with Latin America buy-out

The Grass Roots Group has expanded its worldwide operation into Mexico, Venezuela, Columbia, Brazil and Miami with the acquisition of a controlling interest in Bittime, Latin America’s leading incentive and rewards firm. Grass Roots Bittime, as the new business will be known, also has partner offices in Argentina, Costa Rica and Chile. Grass Roots chairman David Evans said that the acquisition, worth “millions of dollars” and funded from its own balance sheet, will benefit UK corporates who want to run international programmes in more than one country. “We want to offer a global solution with a local function,” he said. “We have a lot to learn from other countries and vice-versa.” Grass Roots stressed that the new offices will not act as DMCs. “We have to look at what is best for our clients and we value the work of specialist DMCs,” said managing director Rik Burrage. The agency now has 12 offices worldwide that employ around 400 people, and Evans insists that redundancies are not planned at the new offices. “We are retaining all staff, including senior management,” he said. Evans also confirmed that the new offices are part of a strategy to have a comprehensive global presence within the next 18 months, with the next stage of expansion already underway. “Once we finalise the Italy office we will have completely covered the traditional European market, so we’ve started to look east,” he said. He refused to confirm how far east the company is looking, but did not deny that a Chinese presence was on the cards. “China is a growing market and an option at some point,” he said. In addition, Grass Roots has formed a joint venture with advertising agency MEMAC Ogilvy Holdings to open an operation in Dubai. The office will be run by Mark Spicer, formerly Grass Roots Group’s project manager for its awards services based in Tring.

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