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How to make money in a recession. Suave, Stowe-educated Matthew Hooper is back in town, after an entrepreneurial odyssey which has seen most of his business interest focused on China these past 5 years. Hooper has just taken a sizeable stake (said to be 20%) in up-and-coming integrated agency Intelligent Marketing and got himself appointed executive chairman at the same time.

At first sight, Hooper looks out of place in the rough-hewn world of mail-shots, on-pack promotions, shelf-wobblers and BOGOFs: he’s about as inconspicuous as a choirboy in a boy band. Contrary to appearances, however, he’s a seasoned operator with remarkable business acumen. And for many years was also chairman of the sales promotion industry’s top trade body, the MCCA.

He first set up diversified marketing services group Interfocus (himself as chairman) in the late 80s, with Omnicom as a financial backer. Then bought out their stake; then sold the business to Interpublic; then bought it back; then sold it again (for the last time) in 2003. Quite the wheeler-dealer, since he made a tidy profit at every turn.

What made him stage a comeback now, in the Nasty Noughties Depression? I can’t do better than quote him: “When the economy is distressed, it throws up opportunities, and good agencies come out stronger.” Exactly.