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Banijay’s Workerbee looks for M&As to expand in northern England, Wales

Banijay-owned UK firm Workerbee has revealed plans to expand its presence in the north of England and Wales through acquisitions, investments and creatively focused partnerships.

Rick Murray

The Manchester-based company, led by recently promoted CEO Rick Murray, said it wants to create an “entrepreneurial and creative hub” by investing in fast-growing independent production companies, forging new partnerships and branching into new genres, with a particular focus on the north of the country and “other under-invested areas.”

Under the expansion plan, the company will change its name to the Workerbee Group, with Murray overseeing the implementation of the new strategy.

Workerbee Group said its expansion has been enabled by the fact its turnover has grown three-fold over the past five years.

It produces factual series and formats including Janet for Lifetime and A&E, The Bridge for Channel 4 and HBO Max, Peter Crouch: Save Our Beautiful Game for Discovery and Idris Elba’s Fight School for BBC Two.

The announcement comes one week after the company revealed plans to grow its senior team and restructure its business into two units. At the time, it appointed former BBC Studios exec Ben Mitchell as its creative director, while promoting Michelle Chappell to MD and Murray to CEO.

The restructure saw the creation of two divisions, one geared towards film and the other formats. The film division focuses on premium factual while the formats division covers factual entertainment and reality shows.

Workerbee Group’s plans dovetail with Banijay UK’s strategy to pursue regional expansion across the country. Banijay UK, led by executive chair and CEO Patrick Holland, also backs Dragonfly North and Kudos North, in addition to IWC and The Comedy Unit in Scotland, and RDF West in Bristol and Wales.

“Rick is not only a brilliant creative leader but an entrepreneur with a keen eye on developing talent and a passion for growing the industry in the north,” said Holland.

“Talent is at the heart of everything we do at Banijay UK and we are ambitious to invest in new production entities.”

Murray added: “The opportunity to create a group that empowers indies based in the nations and regions to reach their full potential is something I’m delighted to be tasked with. Investment in talent and IP as a route to growth is what Banijay is all about and I’m delighted that they are backing me to do this in the north.”

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