Equistone Takes Stake in Marketing Giant ITG

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Equistone Partners Europe has bought the private equity stake in leading marketing technology and services business, Inspired Thinking Group (ITG).

ITG's artworking studio

Our partnership with Equistone not only enables us to expand Our global operation, it gives us the extra investment we need to develop further innovative technologies in areas yet to be seen in the market.

Equistone Partners Europe has bought the private equity stake in leading marketing technology and services business, Inspired Thinking Group (ITG).

The investment is set to support the next stage of ITG’s expansion, which will see a huge push into the US market, accelerated growth throughout Europe, and continued expansion in its core market.

Since Simon Ward founded the business in 2009, ITG has become one of the UK’s biggest full-service marketing providers to blue-chip brands and retailers.

This year, it has been named one of the Sunday Times top ten UK firms for international growth and one of the fastest-growing European tech businesses by the FT.

Simon Ward, ITG CEO, said: “We’re seeing a revolution in marketing delivery, with the world’s most successful businesses looking for continuous innovation in areas such as automation, data-driven customer communications and the migration from print to digital.

“We’ve built our success on being at the forefront of this revolution. Our partnership with Equistone not only enables us to expand our global operation, it gives us the extra investment we need to develop further innovative technologies in areas yet to be seen in the market.”

ITG’s marketing automation technology, Media Centre, manages the marketing operations of over 50 leading brand and retailers, including Heineken, Audi, M&S, PUMA, KFC and Sainsbury’s.

In February 2016, the company bought London-based eCRM business Creator, adding its leadership position in big data-enabled customer communications to its service offering. The company, which is now fully integrated into ITG, delivered over four billion personalised emails and SMS last year, each one triggered by individual customer actions.
ITG also acquired retail strategy agency Vitamin in September. Both acquisitions form part of ITG’s strategy of growth through forming a consolidated group of specialist services that spans the entire range of retail and brand marketing operations.

The company operates a 220-seat, 24/7 design and artworking studio and 75-seat digital agency, and runs mature local marketing programmes for brands such as Renault, ŠKODA and Weight Watchers.

Paul Harper, partner at Equistone, said: “We are delighted to support Simon and his team in continuing to drive ITG forward. They have created an innovative and disruptive business model, founded on technology, which is trusted by a portfolio of well-known clients.

“We believe ITG is ideally positioned in this dynamic market, and the opportunity to accelerate growth through further investment in both its service offering and international expansion is significant.

“ITG has created a unique culture, which we very much look forward to being a part of as we work alongside the team in the next phase of growth.”

Further information

Equistone was advised on the acquisition by Clearwater International (CFA), Eversheds Sutherland (Legal), PWC (Tax and FDD), EY (FDD), AMR International (CDD), Confido (IT DD) and Marsh (Insurance DD). BDC was advised on the sale by Catalyst Corporate Finance (CFA), EY (FDD), CIL Management Consultants (CDD) and Ropes and Gray (Legal). ITG’s management was advised by Catalyst Corporate Finance (CFA), Parisi Tax (Tax) and Thinking Legal (Legal). Debt financing was provided by Lloyds Bank and HSBC; Lloyds and HSBC were advised by DLA Piper (Legal).

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