Chris Gorell Barnes – digital entrepreneur and marine conservationist celebrated for his Blue Marine Foundation – departs his post as CEO of Adjust Your Set to launch a new £150m impact investment business, Ocean 14 Capital. The private equity firm for the blue economy aims to combine purpose and profit to protect the world’s oceans.
Chris hands the leadership of Adjust Your Set to Rikke Wichmann-Bruun and Chris Woodward, who become the new UK Group joint managing directors of Inside Ideas Group (IIG) of businesses, comprising flagship brand OLIVER as well as Adjust Your Set, Dare and Aylesworth Fleming.
Sharon Whale, CEO of Global Markets and Operations and long-standing colleague of Chris, will continue to oversee the Group’s long-term commitment to purpose-driven work.
Sharon said: “A decade ago, alongside Adjust Your Set, Chris co-founded the incredible Blue Marine Foundation. Both enterprises have grown to do amazing things.
“As is the case for serial entrepreneurs like Chris, there’s a time when you wish to focus energy and efforts in one place. We’re proud to see him take marine protection to new heights. Adjust Your Set will no doubt continue his creative legacy under the leadership of Rikke and Chris, whom we wish the very best in their new roles.”
Simon Martin, founder and CEO of OLIVER and Inside Ideas Group, took a majority stake in Adjust Your Set in 2016. Working together, the Group became the fastest-growing collection of marketing and advertising specialists in the UK. Today, OLIVER – the world’s only company to exclusively design, build and run in-house agencies and ecosystems for brands – has been ranked #1 in Adweek’s Fastest Growing List having grown 380% over the last three years in the US alone. According to the World Federation of Advertisers, 57% of multinationals now have in-house marketing capabilities, with a view to increase in-house operations further due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Adjust Your Set will continue to represent Chris’ influence and commitment to work that makes a difference in the world via purpose-driven content. Its campaigns and strategies have so far addressed sustainable fashion, marine conservation, female empowerment, hygiene, HIV prevention, water scarcity, and mental health for clients including Mead Johnson, Dettol, Durex, Vanish, Bacardi, National Lottery and Global Goals/Project Everyone.
Chris said: “This Group gave Adjust Your Set the perfect home, aligning with our entrepreneurial spirit and promise to do good. It’s been incredible to watch IIG and OLIVER revolutionise an entire industry and I’m thrilled to again be entering a huge industry shift, as the finance landscape moves to impact investing. I believe that this will be as innovative and disruptive as the tech revolution that preceded it.
“In Ocean 14 Capital, we’ve built a world-class team that will drive the necessary capital into fixing one of the world’s biggest problems – ocean conservation. In this new chapter, I have truly found my ikigai – and would like to thank the Group for its support. I will certainly be cheering-on the team from the side lines.”
Rikke Wichmann-Bruun, who joined Adjust Your Set in 2020, said: “I want to thank Chris for the immense amount of passion, creativity and success he has brought to the Group, and for starting Adjust Your Set on this amazing journey. I have every faith that 2021 will be a pivotal year for him, this new venture and the health of the world’s oceans.”
Chris Woodward, who originally joined IIG in 2020 as the Managing Director of Dare, added: “Our planet needs people like Chris more than ever. We’ll continue to help brands find their fame, growth and purpose in today’s complicated climate, safe in the knowledge that marine conservation is in good hands.”
Ocean 14 Capital is a £150m high capital returns fund. The money invested will improve ocean health, create sustainable food sources and provide scalable climate change mitigation tools. The fund will also invest in technology to optimise industries that are responding to rapid changing consumer behaviour, value chain pressure and high-tech advances.