One of Wales’ creative industry gems, S3 Advertising, moves into an exciting new era after being acquired by its senior management team for an undisclosed fee.
Commercial Director, Mike Webb; Senior Client Account Director, Rebecca Campbell; HR Director, Mel Matthews and Finance Director, Louise Evans have acquired the business from Founder and CEO Matt Jones, in a deal part-funded by SME investment specialists Caple.
From a three-person start-up to winning the business of major clients including University of South Wales, Airbus, NHS Wales, Deliveroo and S4C, S3 has seen exponential growth over its nine-year history. Founder Matt Jones leaves having achieved the goals he set nine years ago; to create a national, truly creative and disruptive agency in Wales.
Having worked in the media industry for blue chip media owners such as Newsquest Media Group, GCap Media, Global Radio and Titan Outdoor, GBEA Entrepreneur of the Year Matt spotted a gap in the market for a bold style of agency. He climbed the ladder to his then attic in Barry, South Wales and set out to create what was originally known as Studio Tri.
Since then, S3 has been ranked Fast Growth 50’s fastest growing company in the creative industries sector and is consistently recognised for thriving in Wales and beyond. It won Fast Growth 50’s sustainable growth award in 2016, 2017 and 2018 – and recently reported an increase in annual turnover from £4.43m between 2016-17 to £6.6m between 2017-18; up 48.98%.
Matt Jones – who leaves an agency built on talented people and a disruptive approach – says,
“Selling via an MBO to my team, the very people who have been through all highs and lows with me is a dream come true.”
Each pillar of agency operation is represented by the new managing partners, with Mike, Rebecca, Louise and Mel each specialising in cornerstones of the business across sales, client service, finance and HR respectively.
In his new role of Managing Director, Mike Webb, says,
“S3 was a client of mine before I joined the business and so I’ve seen it expand from just having 3 members of staff to well over 40.”
Since arriving in 2016, Mike has led the agency’s new business strategy, bringing in clients including The London Mint Office, Cancer Research UK and Clogau, thanks to his over 20 years’ advertising experience working for media owners such as Trinity Mirror, Newsquest and, for nine years, ExterionMedia.
“I joined S3 Advertising because it is living proof that forward-thinking businesses can enjoy exciting campaigns that disrupt audiences – without having to go to London to indulge in them.
“We’re ready for much more of the same!”
In a deal led by advisors Verde Corporate Finance and Greenaway Scott, acting together within the integrated GS Verde Group structure, Mike, Rebecca, Mel and Louise take control during what has already been an incredible year for S3, which has included the agency winning Best Integrated Campaign (Large) at the 2019 CIM Marketing Excellence Awards for the University of South Wales’ ‘Unleash Your Colours’ campaign – and picking up the ‘Public Sector’ prize at The Drum Digital Advertising Awards for its work with Public Health Wales’ ‘Help Me Quit’ brand, which is working to reduce the number of smokers in Wales.
Business Director, Rebecca Campbell, who in her new role will drive forward the business strategy as well as retaining oversight of some of the agency’s largest accounts, says,
“Our award wins go to prove we provide the brightest recruits from Wales and beyond a nurturing environment to produce outstanding work and campaigns for our clients that disrupt the traditional way of thinking.”
Matt Jones leaves alongside Chief Operations Officer, Andrew Jones, who has been by his side throughout. Managing all agency operations, Andrew has overseen major tender wins for the agency, including Welsh Government’s NPS Framework and Development Bank of Wales.
Taking on Andrew’s responsibilities whilst also continuing to ensure S3’s well-respected culture and the wellbeing of staff is of paramount importance, HR and Operations Director, Mel Matthews, says,
“Our staff, Team S3, are the absolute bedrock of everything we do and protecting them – and our culture – is key as we continue challenging the notion that true talent can only be found in London.”
Matt Jones, who has created over 100 jobs in his time as CEO, leaves S3 a fully integrated advertising agency offering services including creative, media planning and buying, digital, video, CGI, web, social, PR, SEO and audience insight.
Mel Matthews adds,
“We plan to grow even further, and are currently recruiting for a number of key roles to come and work in what’s often recognised as one of the coolest offices in the UK.”
Featuring a ball pit containing 18,000 balls, a 32-metre-square stadium-style cinema that can be screened off for private presentations, an 18-hole mini-golf course a sandpit meeting room with its own blackboard wall and a bar, the ‘Lion’s Den’ in Cardiff’s One Central Square development has previously been recognised alongside companies such as Google for its imaginative working environment.
“I would like to thank each and every one of my clients, and the staff who have supported me and the agency over the past nine years, from the smallest things, such as liking and retweeting my posts on social media, to working alongside me on campaigns.
“Mike, Becky, Mel and Louise will continue to take the agency forward and ensure it remains the very best – and boldest – in the industry. I wish them every success.”
Saying farewell to Matt, Finance Director, Louise Evans, says,
“I’ve been here for five of S3’s nine years, in which we’ve seen huge growth, so I can’t help but feel extremely proud of what’s been achieved so far.
“When I began my journey there was only a couple of us, based out of a small office. Now, we’re a thriving workplace in one of the most modern developments in the Welsh capital.
“Who knows what’s next!”