Creative agency evolves as founding director initiates six-figure management buy-out

The founding director of Cardiff-based creative agency CREO Interactive Limited has completed a management buy-out, selling 75% of the business to his three co-directors.

Creative director Jordan Thorne, strategic director Kat Shaw and technical director Nick Coakley have acquired 75% of CREO from Richard Ward, who retains a 25% share. They become joint owners of the business with a six-figure loan from the Development Bank of Wales secured as finance.

From humble beginnings as a two-man company operating from a small bedroom in 1999, CREO is now one of Wales’ most established agencies with a talented team of 12 and a client portfolio that includes Microsoft, BMW, Welsh Government, NHS Wales and Snowdonia National Park.

Richard Ward first established the business alongside Andrew Ashton who he later bought out in 2019. Richard said: “A large part of our success and growth over the years is down to the talented and dedicated people we have in our team. CREO has been a massive part of my life for the past 22 years and making the decision to hand part of that over meant finding the right management team.

“Having benefitted from the support of the Development Bank when I bought out Andrew as co-founder, I knew that it made absolute sense to work with them again on this deal. It’s always been my exit plan to initiate a management buy-out so we’ve spent the last few years preparing for a handover and I am delighted to be able to place CREO’s future in the trusted and capable hands of Nick, Kat and Jordan.”

Technical Director Nick Coakley was the first employee when Richard Ward established CREO. He said: “As CREO’s first ever employee it’s been a pleasure watching CREO grow into something special over the last 20 years. Seeing the company evolve and adapt to an ever changing technical and strategic landscape has been a rewarding and challenging experience and I am really honoured that I now have the opportunity to be part of the team leading the next stage of our journey with the on-going support of Richard as a shareholder.”

Creative director Jordan Thorne joined CREO in 2015. He said: “I think we’re at an incredibly exciting moment in the organisation’s history. We’ve gelled and bedded in as a team over the last two years and really made strides in who we approach and how we approach them. What’s most important for me is the ability to be selective, to really focus on quality clients with shared values. We’ve seen the organisation grow from working within Wales to expanding to the States and beyond but creating quality work that speaks for itself as we do it. However, none of this would be achievable without the backing of the team behind us and we aim to grow that team further to diversify what we can offer our clients. We have a responsibility to highlight and promote how much creativity there is in Wales and bring that to the forefront globally.”