Newcastle digital agency targets fivefold increase in turnover with four years

Opening a second office in London will drive forward Orange Bus' plans to grow turnover to £10m within four years

Julian Leighton and Mike Parker, directors at Orangebus
Julian Leighton and Mike Parker, directors at Orangebus

A North East digital agency is targeting a fivefold increase in turnover to £10m within four years through the execution of an ambitious growth strategy.

Newcastle-based digital agency Orange Bus was first established as a three-man team operating from an attic room above a shop in Jesmond, Newcastle, in 2006.

Since then, the company has built up its workforce to 40 in its city centre office and built up a strong list of clients including Pearson, Capita, Philips, Sage and PMI, helping to grow turnover to around £2m this year.

Having made a series of shrewd investments in its earlier years, the firm is now poised for significant growth, driven by its expansion into London.

The directors – Julian Leighton and Mike Parker – said its strategy for success is to de-risk and execute complex projects smoothly, whilst over-delivering on results to clients.

Now the pair, who bought the intellectual property rights to software developed by collapsed Northumberland firm Tagish back in 2012, have also opened an office in the city’s bustling Clerkenwell area, to meet demands for its services in the south of the UK.

There is also growing demand coming from overseas, which could lead to high export sales. As of last summer around 40% of revenues came from overseas clients, but the new base in London will allow that figure to grow.

Julian Leighton said expansion into the city means the agency can be more responsive to its existing clients and explore new business opportunities, and the decision has already paid off with a number of contract wins, including The House of Lords and Aston Martin Racing, as well as recurring business from existing clients.

He said the addition of a base in central London allows the firm to grow its front-of-house team, increasing its capabilities to win more work globally while retaining the existing activities in the North East.

Leighton, who named the business after his orange VW camper van, said: “We see this as a very competitive base for delivering technology solutions to a global audience - but it’s not just about cost, it’s about access to a highly skilled, stable workforce that we can scale.

“We have more talented software engineers and computer scientists in the North, and the workforce here is much less transient.

“This model really stacks up for us as a business in that sense and also in terms of practicalities – we have a number of clients in the South East and a journey from Newcastle to places like Oxford and Guildford are around five hours, as opposed to one hour from London.

“Similarly, if you’re travelling from Newcastle to European clients such as Philip Morris in Switzerland, it can take a day to get there – from London you can travel, have meetings and return the same day.

“Being more responsive to our clients and providing a better quality of service is paramount – as is sustained growth and we are now much better placed to access a world of opportunities we would never have had a look in with before.”

Work this year includes developing and launching a mobile app for Aston Martin Racing, designed to bring behind-the-scenes information to fans following the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The business was also heavily involved in the recent Thinking Digital conference held at The Sage Gateshead Music Centre.

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