Acquisition & Integration Communications for the Deb Group
Deb Group is a global innovator and manufacturer of professional skin care products and dispensing systems and has been providing solutions for workplaces and public facilities for over 70 years. Their specialist skin care programme can be tailored for any size of organisation and customers span the industrial, commercial, healthcare and food sectors. Deb products are used over 100 million times every day.
Today, Deb Group has approximately 850 employees and manufactures over 97% of its products in its 7 plants across the world.
Deb Group was acquiring the Stoko skincare businesses from Evonik Industries, one of Germany’s largest specialty chemicals groups. Even though Deb was already a truly global business with sales offices in 16 countries and over 700 employees, Stoko had a very different culture. Its employees were used to being part a large German conglomerate and in a business that was viewed as ‘non-core’ they had suffered from a lack of investment and focus.
The Internal Comms Team was brought in to deliver an effective communications strategy to support the successful integration of Stoko and its people – to make them feel valued and to help them adapt to the Deb culture and ways of working. The acquisition was also the catalyst for launching Deb Group’s new strategy.
With no existing communications structure and resource a key part of our brief was also to improve Deb’s overall communications capability.
Working closely with the Executive and Integration teams, Sarah Hilyer from our team created a phased communications strategy that was driven by the timing of the acquisition.
- Planning phase pre announcement of the deal
- Face to face communications to support the announcement of the deal
- Keeping up the momentum in the 3 month period between signing and completion
- Day 1 announcement – Deb and Stoko officially become one company
We recommended face to face meetings and presentations wherever possible. This was vital to make sure that we overcame language barriers and were as open and honest as possible and available to answer any questions immediately. With a significant percentage of employees in both companies being factory based we also needed to make sure everyone heard the announcements and implications at the same time, to avoid any uncertainty.
At both signing and completion the messages were delivered by the executive team and a senior managers cascade. Comms toolkits including materials and session plans were developed to help senior leaders deliver consistent messages in their local languages, supported by centrally created video messages. In one day, around 800 employees attended 13 presentations and Q&A sessions in 9 countries and in 5 different languages.
Although it is still early days, Deb and Stoko are officially one company. The initial communications strategy has enabled the integration to get off to a great start. There is already a great sense of purpose and collaboration in the way people are working. By using the re-freshed Deb strategy as the cornerstone of our key messages for both in-coming Stoko employees but also for every Deb employee, people have a very clear sense of purpose and the journey the company is on.
We worked with the Deb leadership team to implement new communications channels and support the next phase of the integration to create one face to the Deb Stoko customers.