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FWV adds to Florida office

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Raleigh public relations firm French/West/Vaughan is expanding its presence in Tampa, Fla.

FrenchWest announced today it has agreed to acquire a four-person Tampa agency, Relations PR & Marketing, for an undisclosed price. The move will give it a staff of 10 in Tampa, not including independent contractors.

"We feel fortunate to be able to continue to invest in our business while a lot of other agencies are pulling back," said FrenchWest CEO Rick French.

Relations PR's clients include the Baywalk Shopping Center in St. Petersburg and a number of real estate and hospitality industry clients.

FrenchWest re-entered the Florida market in 2006 by acquiring the Glasure Group. That firm had 10 employees at the time but was scaled back because it was losing money, with the servicing of some clients switched from Tampa to Raleigh, French said.

French projects that his agency's revenue this year will be down 8 percent or more compared to 2008, when its revenue topped $13 million, because of the recession. Agency clients include Wrangler, the Global Water Foundation and Canada Post.

"We've been able to hold or staffing levels consistent, we're just not as profitable as we have been," he said.  The agency boasts 70 employees, not including its FWV Distilled advertising subsidiary.

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About the blogger

David Ranii has been a business reporter at The News & Observer since 1993. Over the years he has covered information technology, banking, insurance, the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, media businesses and real estate. Contact him at 919-829-4877 or e-mail him.