OakNorth completes £34m club loan to LDC-backed leading digital marketing agency, Croud, to support future acquisitions

  • Launched in 2011, Croud is a global, full-service digital agency with offices in the UK, US and Middle East;
  • The business has worked with household brands including: International Workplace Group (IWG), Selfridges, Amazon’s Audible and Prime Video, and Nespresso;
  • In 2019, it secured a minority investment from mid-market private equity house, LDC, to further accelerate its growth and support its M&A strategy;
  • The business has since made three acquisitions – including Born Social and VERB Brands in 2022 – with the club loan from OakNorth helping to support future ones.

OakNorth, the digital bank for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs, has partnered with HSBC on a £34m club loan to global, full-service digital marketing agency, Croud.

Launched in 2011 by ex-Googler, Luke Smith, and the Former Head of Search at Harvest Digital, Ben Knight, Croud has grown into a leading digital marketing agency with offices in London, Shrewsbury, New York and Dubai. The business, which received private equity backing from LDC in 2019, has reinvented the agency model with its Croud Network – its unique global network of over 2,900 on-demand digital marketing specialists called “Croudies”-  augmenting its 500 in-agency FTEs’ and enabling them to deliver globally for clients out of three hubs in the UK , US and the Middle East.  This unique proposition is made possible by Croud’s proprietary technology platform, Croud Control, which delivers AI-powered planning, workflows, automation, and execution of digital marketing campaigns.

Today, around 40% of its client work is delivered via the Croud network, and it continues to expand on its range of services which include: strategy and planning, media, creative, organic performance, analytics, and technology partnerships. The business has made three acquisitions including, in 2022, social-first media agency, Born Social, and luxury performance marketing agency, VERB. Croud has a highly synergistic M&A platform with its ability to connect agency acquisitions to the Croud Network , enabled by Croud Control, and is actively looking to accelerate its M&A plans.  The club loan will support the business’ future M&A activity.

Commenting on the transaction, Luke Smith, co-founder and CEO of Croud, said: “Croud has ambitious growth plans for the future, as a key partner for our ever-expanding client list of household brands. Our continued investment in our people, our tech platforms, and diversifying our proposition is critical to keep us market leading. We are delighted to have worked with the teams at OakNorth and HSBC to secure their financial backing. As a business, we have always been focused on delivering outsized customer outcomes – a desire which is clearly shared by the teams at OakNorth and HSBC.”

Stuart Blair, Director of Debt Finance at OakNorth, continued: “Croud is an incredibly exciting business that is disrupting a fast-growing sector with the backing of a top sponsor in LDC. Through developing and leveraging its proprietary technology, and continuing to build an expansive network of experts, it has proven it can consistently deliver strong results. Its unique “Croudie” model enables it to access best-in-class talent on a project-by-project basis, scaling up or down as needed to fit with its pipeline of activity. This has enabled it to achieve an annual growth rate of almost 40% over the last three years, with more than 80% of its revenues coming from repeat customers – a clear demonstration of the quality of service it delivers. Through its strategic acquisitions,  it has been able to broaden its offering, and with future acquisitions supported by this capital, the business will be able to  achieve its ambitions, and further enhance its upselling and cross-selling capabilities.”


Notes to editors

About Croud

Croud is a global, performance-led media agency that helps businesses drive sustainable growth in the new world of marketing. With a rich heritage in performance, we apply that mindset to everything we do; brand planning, strategy, integrated media, social, creative, and data.

Founded in 2011 with the mission to reinvent the agency model, we combine 500+ in-house digital experts with a global, on-demand network of marketing specialists. This agile, scalable model gives us more time to really understand our clients’ businesses, and deliver truly incremental growth.

Part of the Croud Group, which also includes luxury specialists VERB Brands and social-first agency Born Social, Croud is proud to partner with leading global brands, including Audible, Vans, IWG, and AllSaints.

About OakNorth

Launched in September 2015, OakNorth is the digital bank for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs, empowering scale-up businesses (£1m-£100m turnover) to support growth, prosperity, and innovation for the benefit of all.

Since its launch, the bank has:

  • Lent over £10b to these businesses, directly helping with the creation of 40,000 new jobs and 29,000 new homes across the UK.
  • Raised deposits from c.175,000 savers. 
  • Supported several hundred businesses across the UK with the debt finance to pursue their growth ambitions.

It is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Visit www.oaknorth.co.uk for more information.

Media contact

Valentina Kristensen, Director, Growth & Communications – [email protected] / [email protected] / 0757 234 9009

You may also be interested in

OakNorth provides £25m loan to fast-growing property lending firm, Blue Shield Capital, to fund new real estate bridging loans

Read more

OakNorth completes £34m club loan to LDC-backed leading digital marketing agency, Croud, to support future acquisitions

Read more

OakNorth completes £1.3m loan to real estate firm, Caissa Holdings, to support maiden acquisition in Scotland

Read more