Advertising giant snaps up Lancaster software firm that helps brands sell via Amazon and eBay

Cloud Commerce Group, the Lancaster-based software firm that helps retailers sell and deliver their products across ecommerce platforms and marketplaces, has been bought by advertising giant WPP.

By Gayle Rouncivell
Friday, 31st December 2021, 4:55 am
CCG CEO Mark Hallam.
CCG CEO Mark Hallam.

CCG is a leader in multi-channel ecommerce software, supporting hundreds of European retailers and wholesalers.

The software platform helps brands across the entire commerce journey, connecting customer acquisition and multi-platform commerce, with warehousing, inventory, and fulfilment partners.

CCG’s software integrates with online marketplaces including Amazon and eBay, ecommerce platforms including Shopify and Magento, and multiple accounting systems, payment gateways and fulfilment partners.

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The platform powers more than £1bn in gross merchandise value annually through its various integrations.

CCG, which is headed up by CEO Mark Hallam, will now join the Wunderman Thompson global network as part of its market-leading commerce and technology proposition.

This acquisition is part of WPP’s accelerated growth and M&A strategy building on existing capabilities in the areas of experience, commerce and technology.

Mark Read, CEO of WPP, said: “Clients look to WPP to help them market, sell and fulfil across multiple ecommerce channels and marketplaces.

“With over £1 billion revenue transacting through its platform, Cloud Commerce Group already has demonstrable scale and success in managing the complex omnichannel commerce needs of global brands.

“I’m excited about how CCG’s expertise will further strengthen the breadth and depth of our commerce offering to deliver growth for our clients.”

CCG was formed as Cloud Commerce Pro by Mark Hallam and Stuart Forrest after selling their division of Iomart PLC to BT PLC in 2008.

Mark said: “This is a particularly momentous and exciting time for Cloud Commerce Group and Lancaster. Becoming part of a global network will create new opportunities for growth and innovation and shows that market-leading businesses and teams flourish in Lancashire.

“Being part of WPP will lead to collaboration with experts across Europe and internationally, and we’re very much looking forward to building on CCG’s success to date.”

CCG was advised by Forbes Solicitors, which had previously worked together with CCG in 2019, when the corporate team supported the company’s acquisition of Channel Grabber.

Mark and Stuart have been in business together in Lancaster since 1997, starting Business Serve PLC, one of the first Internet providers in the UK, in Riverway House in Morecambe Road.

Business Serve was the first major internet company in Lancaster and many of today’s internet and technology businesses have people who were involved with the firm in the early days. At its height the business had around 300 staff.

Business Serve was sold to Legend Internet PLC in 2001, and Mark and Stuart went on to Create Ufindus based in Caton Road. This business became Customer Street and was sold to BT in 2008. The business employed more than 500 people with Caton Road and Lancaster as its headquarters.

After selling to BT the business partners then created Cloud Commerce Pro and invested millions into creating one of the worlds leading eCommerce order management software platforms.

They now employ just over 100 highly skilled people in the north west, with around 50 in the Lancaster and Morecambe area. For 10 years they were based in Fenton Street but when Covid struck the team largely began working from home, and now has a small headquarters in Church Street.

"The sale to WPP is truly exciting for us and also for Lancaster and Morecambe district," Mark added. "They have ambitious plans for the business and given the experience and talent of our people in this area I am confident we can open up many new highly skilled employment opportunities locally."