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Sentio provides strategic advice to TheBusinessDesk.com

Mark Hales and David Parkin of TheBusinessDesk.com

Mark Hales and David Parkin of TheBusinessDesk.com

TheBusinessDesk.com has been acquired by technology investor Mark Hales in a deal which will see the business expand across the UK. The move sees founders David Parkin and Paul Snape as well as the original shareholders sell their stakes in the business which was launched in November 2007.

Steve Roberts of Sentio Partners provided strategic advice to the Board in relation to the investment that sees Hales acquire 100% of the equity in the business for an undisclosed sum. It also carries a significant six-figure investment to take on further staff, introduce new products and expand into new regions. David Parkin will continue as a director of the business.

TheBusinessDesk.com, which employs 12 journalists and sales staff, was the first online regional business news service in the UK when it launched in Yorkshire in 2007. It expanded into the North West in September 2008 and opened in the West Midlands in February 2010.

The site became the first regional business publisher to launch an app, and 115,000 registered users. The site is free to users and attracts over £1m in revenue from advertisers on its websites and the 25 million emails it distributes each year.

David Parkin left the role of Business Editor of The Yorkshire Post to launch the venture with PR and media specialist Paul Snape in 2007 with experienced lawyer Chris Jones taking the role of chairman and entrepreneurial accountant Colin Glass becoming non-executive finance director.

David Parkin said: “This marks a new stage in the business and will allow us to invest in redeveloping the site and adding new technology. There are a lot of people who have contributed to our success, not least the original board and the backers who took a leap of faith in 2007 when we had spent over a year seeking funding from a variety of funds, banks and other sources.

“We are grateful to them for their support and I am excited to see what we can achieve working with Mark Hales as we look to the next stage of expansion, taking the brand we have created together to a national audience.”

Paul Snape led the web, marketing and commercial strategy for the business since raising the original backing for TheBusinessDesk.com.

Paul Snape said: “From an idea in 2005, we built TheBusinessDesk.com into one of the leading online business publishing brands in the UK. We first launched before corporates had really embraced online media, and we innovated and created a new model of mobile and email business news that many others bigger publishers have since followed. We owe a great deal to the staff and suppliers who shared our vision and helped us change the way news was delivered to a business audience. Mark has big plans for expansion and the business will be well resourced to grow, and that is great news for the future of the business.”

New owner Hales, who first invested in the TheBusinessDesk.com in February 2010 when the business opened its third website in the West Midlands, specialises in high growth early stage investments. His Oxygen Accelerator programme has seen dozens of early stage investments completed and he is backing TheBusinessDesk.com to continue its innovation in UK business publishing.

He commented: “TheBusinessDesk.com is already a great premium publishing brand and with the experience I have of developing technology businesses we can take big leaps forward from the foundations the team has put down in its three key UK markets. We will invest in a new desktop and mobile site as well as bringing in new products, and we plan to expand our events business significantly, and then plan to take the service to new regions within the year.”