THE Hut Group has continued its expansion by snapping up a fast-growing marketing services agency.

The Gadbrook Park-based firm, the largest employer in the Northwich region, has taken over the Macclesfield-based agency Hangar Seven, in a deal that provides a three-times cash return for the Catapult Growth Fund.

Hangar Seven originally secured an investment from Catapult Ventures, in September 2011 to support its growth plans. Its clients include DFS, B&Q, Boots, Tesco, Diageo and Unilever.

It has now been acquired by the Hut Group, the online retailer whose websites include Myprotein, Lookfantastic and MyBag. The Hut Group operates more than 100 websites that sell premium, non-perishable, fast-moving consumer goods direct to the consumer.

The Hut Group is backed by private equity firm KKR.

Ed Wass, who led the transaction for Catapult Ventures, said: “We are delighted that Hangar Seven has been such a successful story.

“Catapult backed the management team because we recognised that they had the passion, ideas, skills and enthusiasm to grow the business with our help. We are very proud to have supported them through this period of the company’s development.”

The £30 million Catapult Growth Fund was launched in 2006 and is funded by the British Business Bank and local authority pension funds.

Jeremy Middleton, Hangar Seven chairman, said: “Over the past five years Catapult Ventures has been a hugely supportive partner, with its investment and guidance, enabling us to successfully deliver our strategic goals.

“The management team now look forward to the continued success of the business under new ownership.

“Becoming part of the Hut Group is great news for both our people and our customers.

“It brings many new career opportunities for our crew and, for our customers, it means that we will be able to augment our existing services with the Hut Group’s market-leading abilities in both technology and customer data and insight.”