MBO as a Bristol agency targets growth

MBO as a Bristol agency targets growth
Lydia Rybak, Natasha Sprague and Chris Leyton

A Bristol-based e-commerce agency whose clients include Screwfix, JoJo Maman Bébé and The National Trust has undergone a management buyout (MBO).

Pixel operates across the digital experience space, specializing in helping businesses grow online. It has a staff of more than 70.

Founders Steve and Chris Leyton retain an equity stake in the company they created in 2001 and remain in their roles as Managing Director and Director of Development respectively.

Duncan Ball management team Rob Kantor, Jonathan Abela, Jake Rainbow, Ken Walker, Stuart Taylor, Mike Eames, Luke Hobbs, Barnaby Simms and Tash Sprague become co-owners.

The agreement is designed to provide continuity to the leadership team and further strengthen the company’s market proposition.

Steve said: “Pixel’s transition to management ownership is a natural evolution of the business, which we strongly believe will be a positive change agent for our clients and our team.

“As we considered how best to drive our next phase of growth, the key attraction of the MBO route on outside investment was that having the team alongside us as co-owners will allow us to retain the team spirit and customer-focused spirit that has been an integral part of our success to date.”

Chris added: “This is an exciting time for The Pixel as we aspire to offer a broader range of services to our current and new customers as we move into the digital experience space.

“Our new co-owners have been with us for up to 16 years, so having that continuity in management will help forge those deeper relationships, and the move to common ownership is a recognition of their dedication and commitment.”

Matt Willmott, Nicola Manclark and Andrew Killick, corporate finance and tax specialists at PKF Francis Clark, advised the founders throughout the MBO process, including deal and tax structuring, tax settlements, fundraising and general support to the project.

NatWest Bank provided the funds for the transaction.

Willmott said, “The Pixel MBO provides a great opportunity for the team while maintaining the culture that has been so critical to past success.

“The entire team has been instrumental in the development of the company, and the MBO demonstrates what can be achieved for the benefit of all of the company’s stakeholders.

“Steve and Chris wanted to recognize the team for the roles they have played, as well as preparing the business and their leadership for future growth.”

Steve added: “MBO was a daunting new journey for us as founders and for the management team, but Matt has been incredibly supportive throughout the deal process by showing us the art of the possible.

“Taking a team of ten people who had never owned a business before on this collective journey to a life-changing moment felt like a huge responsibility as we came to the team with this opportunity, so it’s been reassuring to have the team at PKF Francis Clark on this with us.

“It has been a very successful and enjoyable relationship, and we have always had full confidence that they are acting in our best interest.”

Simon Smith of Clarke Willmott provided legal advice to the founders, while Ben Davis of Knights advised the management team. Katie-Jane Rees of Foot Anstey advised NatWest bank.


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