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Nottingham-based Affinity software sold to Canva in multi-million pound deal

Two Nottingham-based entrepreneurs pocket more than £100 million after they sold their Affinity Serif photo editing suite of apps to Canva in a deal worth hundreds of millions of pounds.

Gary Bates, 54, and Jim Bryce, 59, who previously owned around two-thirds of Serif, which is known for its Affinity range of photo editing, page layout and design software including apps for Mac, iPad and Windows.

The company is based at Wilford Industrial Estate.

Affinity Serif

They bought the lossmaking business for less than £1 million in 2001.

More than 3 million users enjoy Affinity, which helped Serif to achieve pre-tax profits of £16 million in 2022, based on sales of £31 million.

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affinity team article
The team based at Wilford HQ in Nottingham

Canva is valued at $26 billion.

Serif’s Affinity software is positioned as a low-cost alternative to packages from Adobe, which makes Photoshop and Illustrator, meaning that Canva is now competing head-to-head for the bigger American group’s user base.

Affinity Serif CEO Ashley Hewson said in an announcement on 26 March:

‘I am thrilled to announce that Affinity is joining the Canva family.

‘This is a moment of great excitement, anticipation, and profound gratitude for all of you who have been part of our story so far.

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‘We know that those of you who’ve put your faith in Affinity, some since we launched our very first Mac app, will have questions about what this means for the future of our products.

‘Since the inception of Affinity, our mission has been to empower creatives with tools that unleash their full potential, fostering a community where innovation and artistry flourish. We’ve worked tirelessly to challenge the status quo, delivering professional-grade creative software that is both accessible and affordable.’

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Canva

‘In Canva, we’ve found a kindred spirit who can help us take Affinity to new levels. Their extra resources will mean we can deliver much more, much faster. Beyond that, we can forge new horizons for Affinity products, opening up a world of possibilities which previously would never have been achievable.

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‘Canva’s revolutionary approach to design democratisation and commitment to empowering everyone to create aligns perfectly with our core values and vision. This union is a testament to what can be achieved when two companies that share a common goal of making design accessible and enjoyable for everyone come together.

Screenshot 2024 03 28 at 16.16.59

‘I want to express my deepest gratitude to our incredible Affinity team. Your passion, dedication, and relentless pursuit of excellence have been the driving force behind our success so far, and I can’t wait to continue this journey with you all.

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‘To our loyal users and the creative community, your support and feedback have been invaluable. You’ve inspired us to push boundaries and continuously improve, and we’re excited to embark on this new chapter together.

‘The future is bright, and I am incredibly excited to continue our story together and create a world where design is within everyone’s reach.’

About Serif

Serif launched in 1987 and built up a reputation for quality and reliability based on an award-winning range of software for PC – low-cost alternatives to high-end publishing and graphics packages.

The focus of development then switched to a next-generation suite of lean, super-fast apps for creative professionals using Mac, Windows and iPad. Affinity Designer, the first Affinity app, was released in 2014. Affinity Photo followed in 2015 and the launch of Affinity Publisher in 2019 meant Serif boasted a full creative suite of applications covering photo editing, graphic design and desktop publishing.

Affinity Version 2, launched in November 2022, represents a complete reimagining of the Affinity suite with new features and enhancements, plus a redesigned UI, for a fluid and powerful working experience. The launch at the same time of Affinity Publisher 2 for iPad means the entire Affinity suite is integrated across Mac, PC and iPad.

Affinity products have won some of the biggest awards in the industry, gained plaudits from reviewers, and been adopted by millions of users worldwide.

Serif employs around 90 people at its HQ in Nottingham, UK.

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