Exclusive: CTI Digital acquires Manchester's Stardotstar

Simon Austin's picture
by Simon Austin

Manchester’s CTI Digital has taken over innovation agency Stardotstar in its second specialist acquisition of the last 14 months.

Last May, CTI took over Lancaster-based eCommerce and hosting specialist Nublue. The purchase of Stardotstar marks the culmination of a “long planning process” and there will now be a restructuring of the finance, sales and marketing teams across the three entities, which will result “in a handful of redundancies”. 

Stardotstar was founded in Manchester in 2000 and is headed by Managing Director Gez O’Brien (pictured top right). The agency has worked with clients including First4Adoption, Channel 4, CBBC, Monster, The Open University and Department of Transport.

Currently, the company consists of O'Brien and a network of freelancers, but there are plans to employ five to seven people once the restructure is complete. 

CTI and Nublue recently moved into new offices in the Express Building on Great Ancoats Street in Manchester and Stardotstar will soon join them.

Nick Rhind, CEO of CTI Digital (pictured bottom), said: “CTI Digital has been an evolving body since we began in 2003. The development of our strategy and experience team has been client lead, meaning we have built a service that works for real organisations and understands their pains when it comes to digital.

“We have invested heavily in building our digital strategy service alongside our strong development credentials, hiring aggressively and opening a state of the art UX lab.”

“Knowing Gez was approachable on a sale, we discussed the direction the CTI Group is heading in. His ethos and brand heritage fit comfortably with CTI and Nublue, and Gez was pleased to embark on an acquisition with CTI Digital.

“It’s taken a few months to get the deal done, but I look forward to the expertise Stardotstar will bring to and across the group.”

O’Brien added: “I’ve known CTI for some years, but it was only after working with them on several projects, that the conversation around an acquisition came up. Having worked with them for some time, I could see Stardotstar fit in the bigger CTI picture, and I’m inspired to help make that vision a reality.

“Stardotstar will be able to focus on its core strengths of discovery and creativity but have the CTI Group behind it on build and delivery. We’re bringing together the best strategy with the best in robust and scalable build. I can’t wait to see what we do together.”

As part of the “diversification strategy of the CTI Group”, O’Brien and Matt Smith, CTI's Strategy and Experience Director (pictured top left), have taken new roles in heading the Stardotstar brand. O'Brien will lead strategy and creative, while Smith will take a strategy and experience director role.

CTI Holdings’ budget group revenue is forecast to be £9.8m for the year to February 2021, which would represent an increase of 40% on 2020. 

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