Steamforged Games – Commercial Director and Head of Marketing – Rowan Case Study

Privately Owned with recent Foresight Private Equity Investment – International Games Designer & Manufacturer

Full Commercial, Sales and Marketing team appointed to support ambitious growth plans after PE investment from Foresight Group.


Steamforged Games is a privately owned business (founded by two good friends) who design & manufacture & sell table-top board games, both with their own IP and with licenses from well-known video games such as Dark Souls & Resident Evil. In 2019 the business received PE investment from Foresight to fuel to their ambitious growth plans to:  

  • Expand their US market share and international brand
  • Develop an online fan community
  • Grow, develop & launch new products
  • Create an omni-channel route to market (inc a new dedicated B2C Introduce e-Commerce strategy & platform)
  • Develop robust supply chain including Chinese manufacturing
  • Build board & operational management team capable of driving the next phase of growth through to exit

Rowan were retained by Steamforged Founders (Mat Hart & Richard Loxam) and the Investment Director (Rob Jones) to define roles across various departments including: Commercial Director and Head of Marketing. 


Typical of many founder-led SMEs, the majority of Steamforged staff were “homegrown” – meaning they passionately stayed with the company for many years, but didn’t have the fresh perspective and specific expertise required to scale Rowan consulted closely with Richard in order to understand the key areas required for each role – as well as, critically, the company culture that had allowed them to grow so fast to this point. They needed:

  • Head of Marketing – take Steamforged on a brand journey & evolution, create and implement a full marketing strategy, optimise targeting of retailers, direct consumers and distribution partners & create an inclusive and engaging customer community.They needed to be able to move fast into e-commerce
  • Commercial Director – maximise global retail opportunities, launch new & existing products to a mass retail market, procure the right skills to get to the right distributors, who would get to the right retailer
  • They needed someone from industry who understood the market & could speed up & elevate their growth plans
  • (Steamforged operated in a very niche world with very few competitors)
  • They also wanted someone who had already been a leader in an SME that had gone through investment and helped navigate it through the next growth phase.

As experts in Executive Search, and leveraging Rowan’s excellent research & assessment team, a detailed search process was undertaken in the Gaming, Entertainment and Consumer Products industries.


Rowan successfully appointed:

  • Derek Baker as Head of Marketing, who joined Steamforged with a strong track record with significant experience in the entertainment industry, and had developed & implemented several new marketing and product development strategies
  • Toby Davies as Commercial Director, who brought a high-level of sector knowledge and industry contacts with him having previous experience in forging new distribution channels and launching new products through mass, global retail channels (previous experience from SME brand “Trunki“ (Sales Director) & Corporate competitor “Games Workshop” (Head of Sales))

Since Derek and Toby joined Steamforged, they have:

  • Widened distribution channels (which were previously not considered) that are now a significant part of trading revenue
  • Driven broad channel product development through to commercialisation
  • Evolved marketing channels, diversifying & dynamic approach to developing their customer community
  • Built a full marketing strategy & team
  • Lead a full website re-design to support customers
  • Moving onto a new e-commerce platform to fulfil their B2C strategy

Further Placements

After successful placements with Commercial & Marketing, Rowan were retained again and successfully appointed:

  • Judy Guan – Head of Operations: Chinese speaking individual who could forge relationships directly with 3rd party suppliers to improve process control and significant savings
  • John Higham – Finance Director (pictured below): highly accomplished private equity professional with capability to futureproof the board
  • Emma Foster – Head of Product & Development: possessed excellent experience of rapid growth within a PE backed business

Quote – Richard Loxam, CEO, Steamforged Games

 “Rowan have been excellent partners for Steamforged Games.  One of our key tasks post our Foresight investment was to build and strengthen the senior management team to deliver our plans. Not only were Rowan instrumental in finding the right level of candidates for this but their active and engaging approach meant the process was a pleasure from start to end. We could not recommend them enough to work with.”