Smart new business goes for growth
A SMART new digital business, that is transforming the region’s streets through its high impact screens, is set for expansion less than six months after it was formed.
Smart Outdoor, which provides dynamic, digital advertising screens that reach millions of people every week, has made a move into Sunderland’s Evolve Business Centre, as it looks to expand with three new appointments.
The team will soon be seven-strong, and is set to embark on a period of growth with more advertising sites set to be added to its portfolio.
The company, headed up by Livingston-born Mark Catterall, has a number of prominent display screens including one on the A19 as well as Whitemare Pool and the heart of Newcastle, but is in the process of agreeing deals that will see new sites appear across the North East and in other ‘underserved’ areas across the UK. As a result, Smart Outdoor will be adding more resource to its team including a digital marketing executive and account managers to deliver the best possible customer service.
Mark, who has worked in the outdoor media industry for 15 years, said he is forecasting significant growth, adding to the business’ offer with social media support, which will complement the firm’s ambient media platforms.
He said: “Smart Outdoor is still in its infancy, but already the business is going from strength to strength and with some exciting developments in the pipeline, I am certain we’ll see further significant growth in the coming months.
“Taking an office space in Evolve, which is right at the heart of the North East, positions us really well to serve the whole region, and the excellent road, rail and air connections nearby mean we can easily get to where we need to, with ease of access to London and Amsterdam, places that are of particular strategic importance to us.”
He added: “The digital outdoor market has some really big players, and it’s highly competitive, but where we differentiate ourselves is in our ability to focus on places that are currently under-served by outdoor media, but have important audiences that businesses want - and have the marketing budget available - to target.”
With a portfolio of 20 existing sites, Smart Outdoor is already able to offer its clients a number of prominent advertising opportunities across the North East. However, with further investment in new sites currently in advanced planning stages, Mr Catterall believes the business could be a major disruptor in the outdoor advertising market.
“We are very well positioned to fill a void that I believe the existing players in the market have left. And as we add to the team, we’ll be bringing in complementary skills that will enhance the service we already provide to clients. It’s a really exciting time.”
The company chose to grow roots in Sunderland, where Mark now lives with his wife Tricia and step-daughter, Eve - both of whom work for the company - his two sons and young daughter. Mark’s parents are also part of Smart Outdoor’s holding company, with comprises two separate divisions in addition to the outdoor media arm, meaning the company is very much a family affair.
“We support each other,” explained Mark.
“We are all totally focused on delivering the best support to clients and to building a successful business.”
With the largest advertising corporation in the world, JC Decaux - also family owned and operated - boasting a 13,000 strong team with €3,392.8 million annual turnover, Mark believes Smart Outdoors’ growth could well be global.
“We are ambitious,” said Mark. “The whole team is.”
The company has been supported by Sunderland City Council’s business investment team, which assisted Mark with the move to Evolve and will be offering ongoing help as the business grows.
Patrick Melia, chief executive of Sunderland City Council, said: “Smart Outdoor is a really impressive business that we are delighted has chosen Sunderland as its base.
“We look forward to supporting Mark and his team as the company develops and grows with some exciting conversations underway that will hopefully see it grow its footprint in the city, providing more opportunities for advertisers to get their brand in front of people who live, work and play in the city.”
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