Creative digital marketing agency bought

Eight Group partners with CTC on Marketlayer acquisition

(L-R) Darren Crawford, Gabe Cooney and Lance Hill
(L-R) Darren Crawford, Gabe Cooney and Lance Hill

Eight Days a Week Print Solutions (EDWPS), currently repositioning to become Eight Group encompassing Eight Plus, has teamed up with Crawford Technology Consulting (CTC) to acquire creative digital marketing agency Marketlayer.

The deal, which was completed on Friday (26 April), saw Nottingham-based Eight Group acquire the majority and controlling interest of London-based Marketlayer, with the remainder taken by CTC.

Marketlayer, which offers innovative digital communications across a range of sectors, was incorporated in 2008 by its current managing director, Gabe Cooney. Cooney will retain his role and continue to oversee the day-to-day operations of the business.

Eight Group managing director Lance Hill said: “This was a great opportunity to broaden our strategic and digital communications offering which will appeal to our existing customer base, plus a pipeline of new developments that are underway.

“Marketlayer has a solid customer base of their own, with a great customer-led service offering.”

CTC director Darren Crawford, who until recently was chief technology officer of the Go Inspire Group, added: “I’m excited about the future collaboration between us all.

“Marketlayer has a first-class development team, and I believe that we can build upon Marketlayer’s unique and innovative technology to the benefit of theirs and EDWPS’ customers. I am especially happy to be working with Lance again.”

Cooney also commented: “Following 16 years of Data Direct, originally started with Robin Welch in 1992 offering database intelligence driven personalised printing, Marketlayer was my next chapter, designed to introduce our clients old and new into the digital world of email broadcasting.

“Myself and my team are delighted and super enthusiastic to enter this next exhilarating and sensational chapter of our digital marketing journey, enabling all parties to combine and utilise our now second-to-none skillset being part of the Eight Group.”

Hill and Crawford worked together for 10 years at 4DM. They have sat on various industry boards that have helped to shape the direct mail and digital integration landscape. Hill and Cooney, meanwhile, have a longstanding professional relationship dating back to their time at Graphic Inline and Data Direct in the 1990s.

Hill told Printweek the partnership came about after the trio met up and spoke about the possibility of coming together, with talks around the deal starting around August/September last year.

“It started from an off the cuff conversation and went from there. Gabe was looking for an exit plan over the next few years, for when he looks to retire, and I think he was also quite clear that it’s a great business that would find it advantageous to be part of something bigger.

“He knew what I was doing and he came up to Nottingham and was really impressed with what he saw with our business, and the culture, the fit, and the customer base, so we decided to do something.

“Darren also decided to have a stake in it, which I thought was a great idea. Having him part of it was quite a big thing for me, because he’s got the technical expertise in that area that I haven’t got.”

He added: “The other good thing about Marketlayer is that all the technology and the platforms are all in-house proprietary, developed themselves. They’ve got a really broad skillset of developers there so there is a lot more we can do with it potentially, going into website design and all sorts of things if we wanted to.”

The acquisition did not require external finance and was structured with an upfront payment and deferred consideration.

Marketlayer’s name and branding will be retained while the addition of its four staff, including Cooney, takes Eight Group’s total headcount to 32. The combined company is looking at a turnover of around £15m.