The founder of Rockford IT has invested a six-figure sum into leading Shropshire marketing and digital agency Reech, with plans to increase the company’s turnover four-fold by 2022.
Entrepreneur Tom Sykes, who founded Rockford in 2001 and later sold it in a landmark £3.9m deal to SysGroup at the end of last year, has taken a 30% stake in Reech – and hasn’t ruled out further business acquisitions in the next 12 months.
Rob Hughes, 34, started Reech along with his wife, Joanna, in their box bedroom in 2009 after being made redundant. He has since grown the business to 11 staff, with clients including Wolverhampton Wanderers, Aico, The Shingler Group, Technology Supplies, SJ Roberts Homes, and the ARH Group. He said the investment would make Reech a “major player” in the Midlands.
“It was incredibly flattering when Tom approached James and I with this offer,” Rob explained. “The business has grown impressively from humble beginnings but this investment will accelerate our expansion plans significantly.
“We worked with Rockford IT for a number of years while Tom was chief executive and we’re delighted he’s had the faith to put his own money into Reech.
“The business will continue to offer ground-breaking branding, design, website development, and digital marketing, including content creation and SEO, but we also want to enhance our offering in the coming years to become a major player in the Midlands.”
Rob said he also intended to continue with Reech’s ambition of giving something back to the local community.
“We do an incredible amount of work for local charities – over the last few years we have worked with Shrewsbury Town in the Community, the Lingen Davies Cancer Fund and Severn Hospice amongst others. As we grow, it is important to us that we continue to contribute to our local community.”
The move, announced on Monday 26 February, will seek to double Reech’s office capacity, increase staff and expand the company’s digital marketing operations, specifically mobile apps and bespoke software solutions. Rob will retain the majority shareholding while James Brinkler, now technical director, has upped his stake in the business. Head of design, Dena Evans, will become creative director and a shareholder.
“All of this will add huge amounts of value to our existing and future client base,” said Rob proudly. “We have built up an enviable reputation in Shropshire with our Reech relationships and this offering will only be enhanced with this new investment.”
Tom, 36, will become executive chairman and brings chartered accountant Grant Thomas, 37, with him as a highly-experienced financial director. Grant joined Rockford in 2010 and implemented PLC levels of reporting and monitoring with Tom, which they now use as a baseline for any business.
“We’re investing in Reech because we recognise the great talent they have to offer,” Tom explained. “Even when Reech pitched for our business some years ago they were the only agency to come and find out what we actually did. Their attention to detail, along with their commitment to going the extra mile, already puts them head and shoulders above the rest and now we’re able to give them a launchpad for expansion.
“What’s particularly exciting about this project is that we have grown a business before and learned a huge amount during that process. Our aim is for Reech to be turning over in excess of £2.5m by 2022 and proving itself on a bigger stage.”
Tom said six staff would be recruited in 2018 and didn’t rule out further acquisitions of complementary businesses.
The deal was truly a Shropshire affair, thanks to the fact that Reech instructed Shrewsbury solicitors, Lanyon Bowdler, to work on its behalf, while Tom and Grant instructed fellow Shrewsbury firm, Aaron & Partners.
Rob said: “We have worked with Gráinne Walters, who heads up Lanyon Bowdler’s corporate team, for a number of years and have absolute faith in the level of service and professionalism she delivers.
“Hugh Strickland, a partner in the Corporate Finance team at Shrewsbury legal practice Aaron & Partners, and Zoe Lloyd, a Solicitor at the firm, were responsible for the deal that sold Rockford IT to SysGroup in 2017, so all parties were confident that the deal would be as smooth as possible.”