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22 décembre 2008

Lightmaker Manchester goes into administration, Peter Gabriel pulls Great Fridays out of the ashes, Monday, 22 December 2008

How-Do has discovered that the Manchester office of leading new media agency Lightmaker has been placed in administration. However, in a stunning development rock legend and digital pioneer Peter Gabriel has effectively bought the firm’s assets out and funded the launch of phoenix company Great Fridays.

Lightmaker is one of the leading agency brands in the new media arena, but, according to insiders, has been struggling over recent months in the economic downturn, forcing it to close offices in Scotland, Boston, San Francisco and Melbourne. The Manchester outpost of the agency was a franchise outfit owned and operated by managing director Matt Farrar.

Farrar took the time to take How-Do through the demise of the firm, but was keen to emphasize that the new operation, although distinct from Lightmaker, would be retaining the same staff and building.

It’s basically business as usual, he stressed, but in highly unusual circumstances.

“The economy has been effecting everyone,” Farrar admitted. “As time was progressing we were getting more and more nervous about our ability to run the business as we would have liked. It became apparent that it was becoming harder to chase the funds that were owed to us for the inter-group work that we had been carrying out… and that made us uneasy about exactly what was going on. It got to the stage when even meeting wage demands was a struggle.”

Farrar told How-Do that this “came to a head” at the end of November when he was informed by HSBC that the firm’s funds had run dry and they would not provide the facility to cover the staff wages. This was, understandably, “a very difficult time” for the management team and led to the move to eventually put the firm into administration on 11 December.

However, during this time Farrar had engaged in conversations with certain clients and friends, many of whom apparently offered support and all of whom, according to him, praised the 20 strong team and noted that they “had something more to offer than just the Lightmaker brand itself.”

Cue the entrance of client Peter Gabriel and his firm Real World Holdings.

Lightmaker Manchester has been carrying out numerous projects for Real World and Farrar made clear that the business was keen to continue engaging with the team - seeing those projects through to their conclusion and exploiting the skills of the staff for new business opportunities.

This led Gabriel and his business partners to step in and purchase the firm out of administration, launching it under the new banner of Great Fridays, Great People (trading as Great Fridays).

“We’ve been very lucky,” Farrar acknowledged, “not only has Peter stepped in, but he and the Real World team are keen to make sure the business continues as normal, and we haven’t lost any members of staff at all.”

He would not reveal the shareholding structure of the new business at the time of writing, but noted that he had retained a stake in the firm and that Tiff Pike and Andy Wood from Real World would now be joining at board level positions.

In terms of clients Farrar opined that “first and foremost they will be looked after and we’ll be working with Lightmaker to ensure this” but added that eventually “clients will make up their own minds” about whom they chose to work with.

“For now we have plenty of work with Peter and the Real World brand,” he stressed.

Lightmaker Manchester has a history of working with a host of well-known brand names, including MTV, Morphy Richards and Habitat.

Earlier this year it launched the worldwide site for popular console game Guitar Hero as it moved onto the Nintendo DS platform.

A holding page for Great Fridays has now been set up at

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