Sideshow, one of the largest independent digital agency groups in the UK, partners with Waterland Private Equity to support ambitious growth plans


Sideshow (“the Company”), the award-winning independent digital agency group, is pleased to announce it has taken significant investment from Waterland Private Equity (“Waterland”) to support its ambitious growth plans.

Sideshow Group aims to become a global leader in evidence-driven digital communications. The partnership will support Sideshow’s vision by accelerating investment in services that deliver meaningful and measurable impact to its clients, and by helping retain and attract the best people in the industry.

Sideshow Group offers clients a highly connected family of specialist agencies including Vertical Leap, Thinking Juice, Bunnyfoot and Conversion, that together provide digital services ranging from experience design to conversion rate optimisation. Sideshow’s evidence-driven proposition enables clients to make informed and data-driven decisions that supercharge their digital transformation and marketing.

Today, Sideshow employs over 250 employees across six offices in the UK, including London, Bournemouth and Sheffield. The Group has enjoyed impressive client and headcount growth since it was founded in 2010 supported by a proven acquisition strategy. Sideshow serves a diversified base of around 350 customers including well-known brands such as BT, KFC, HSBC, Barbour, Facebook and Amazon.

Sideshow operates in a global digital agency market that is worth £180bn. The market is growing at c. 8% a year as digital channels play an increasingly pivotal role in the way consumers and businesses search for, discover and buy products and services. Covid-19 is accelerating this trend by driving investment in the creation, maintenance and refinement of brands’ digital touchpoints with customers.

Tony Hill, Founder and Group CEO, will continue to lead the business supported by Sideshow’s leadership team of Shane Coughlan (Sideshow Agency), Neil Dennis (Thinking Juice), Stephen Pavlovich (Conversion and Bunnyfoot), Chris Pitt (Vertical Leap) and Group Financial Director Jonathan Russell.

Waterland has deep experience in the digital services industry from its recent and current partnerships in Dept, Intracto, Xebia and imc group. Waterland will support Sideshow Group to sustain its successful acquisition strategy. Follow-on funding is available to acquire and partner with other high quality digital agencies to provide new and differentiated capabilities to Sideshow’s clients.

Waterland will invest alongside Tony Hill and the senior management team in the transaction. This will be Waterland’s seventh platform investment by the UK team since opening its UK office in 2017. The Waterland team comprises Wouter Roduner, Dominic Graham, Robin Elley and Charlie Whitehead.

Tony Hill, Group CEO and Founder of Sideshow, commented: “I am excited that Sideshow has secured a partnership with Waterland, a private equity firm with an outstanding record of supporting high-growth digital agencies. Our own ambitions are limitless, so it will be interesting to see where this journey takes us. Most importantly the investment is good for everyone that works in the group and for our clients. We will continue to evolve our culture across the group and bring our brand to life, building a next generation agency group that drives successful change for our clients and inspires the best people to join us.”

Dominic Graham, Investment Director at Waterland Private Equity, commented: “We are delighted to announce this partnership with Sideshow Group. Tony, the senior team and Sideshow’s employees have built a fantastic business over the last ten years based on great client relationships, customer-centricity and flexible delivery. This transaction will support Sideshow to further enhance its customer proposition. Sideshow has a well-defined strategy to become a global leader in evidence-driven digital communications and we are excited to support them to achieve that.

Sideshow Group was advised by Results International Group (M&A) and Lewis Silkin (Legals). Waterland Private Equity was advised by Deloitte (FDD, Tax), Pinsent Masons (Legals) and Clearwater International (Debt Advisory). The financial terms of the transaction are not disclosed.

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