Glasgow’s GRA eyes international expansion after stellar sales growth

Glasgow's GRA eyes international expansion after stellar sales growth

Jemma Robertson

A Glasgow agency originally set up in the 1980s by a late veteran of the city’s advertising industry has almost doubled its sales in the last year.

GRA – started as Guy Robertson Advertising in 1986 – is now run by the eponymous founder’s daughter, Jemma Robertson, 26, and expects to post a 75% increase in sales this year, alongside a jump in profits of between 25 to 30%.

The digital marketing agency specialises in website design and build, branding, social media and search engine optimisation and has grown its client base across sectors including food manufacturing, hospitality, tourism, construction, storage, property and finance.

GRA’s clients include Coatbridge-based confectionery manufacturer Lees of Scotland, timber specialist Fleming and Glasgow independent school, the High School of Glasgow.

Ms Robertson said: “Despite the cost-of-living crisis and signs of unemployment creeping up again, so many businesses are still investing in marketing.

“Many companies reduce advertising budgets during economic downturns, which can create a competitive advantage for those that continue to invest.”

Ms Robertson took over as director of GRA in 2020 after the tragic death of her father, aged 59, from head injuries sustained in a fall. She had only been working full-time in the business for a year, after graduating from the University of Aberdeen with a Masters honours degree in business.

“I was 23 when I was launched into this,” she added. “It’s been challenging, but it’s also really good fun. We have built a great team full of energy and ambition and I look forward to waking up every morning and finding new innovative ways to deliver value to clients.”

Ms Robertson says she does a lot of things differently to how she and her father might have done them before, due to advancements in technology and the need to constantly innovate but also applies the great wisdom he passed on and the need to provide a high level of client service.

“I only got a year with him in a full-time, professional relationship, but there is so much he taught me that I still use every single day,” she said.

In the 1990s, GRA and its successor, Guy Robertson Partnership, grew into one of Scotland’s biggest marketing agencies, with clients including car maker Toyota and mineral water brand Highland Spring.

Ms Robertson says her ambition for GRA now is to take on more big brand business and clients working across Europe and internationally.

Current projects for GRA include a tech start-up launch in Canada and America and a UK-wide retail launch.

“I’m really proud of the calibre of clients we work with and some of the projects we’ve been involved in. We’ve also managed to maintain a high quality service while going through a huge growth spurt,” Ms Robertson said.

Since 2020, Ms Robertson has also grown staff numbers at GRA to a team of five. Cumulatively over the last three years, GRA has grown its revenues by about 250% and its profits by about 50%.

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