PA expands sports library with Empics takeover

The Press Association has bought Empics, the sports photo agency founded by Phil O’Brien in 1985, writes Dominic Ponsford.

Former Leicester Mercury photographer O’Brien stressed that none of Empics’ 47 Nottingham-based employees was at risk from the move, which was intended to help the business grow.

The acquisition adds 2 million images to PA’s library of sports photos, making a total of 9 million, 1.5 million of which are available to customers online.

Both companies will continue to run their own picture desk operations. According to PA, the Empics New Media Stills Production “presents significant opportunities”.

This is a new technology that enables live images to be sent to customers from sporting events within 20 seconds via mobile phone.

O’Brien said: “There will be a reorganisation of the team, but initially Empics will still be taking sports pictures and selling them to newspapers and our other clients.

“In future, we will also be responsible for managing photo syndication of PA news, celebrity and history, as well as sport.

“We’ve had financial offers before but PA matched our needs in terms of taking the business forward in the way we have always wanted to.The previous financial offers would have involved downsizing, but this is a plan for expansion.”

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