Sproxton, who co-founded Aardman in 1976 with Peter Lord, will be replaced by Sean Clarke, a 20-year veteran of the company, who is currently head of rights and brand development.
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Sproxton is not severing ties completely with Aardman. He will sit on the studio’s trustee board and will provide expertise on individual projects as a consultant.
Speaking about his replacement Clarke, Sproxton said: “He has a deep understanding of the creative culture at Aardman – which will ensure continuity – in addition to a very strong, clear and exciting strategy to take the company forward, so it will certainly not be resting on its laurels.”
Clarke added that it was an “honour” to take on the role. He has been central to building Aardman’s 30-strong rights team, developing themed attractions and live events based on the company’s brands. He also launched its YouTube channels, which rack up 1.2B views a year.
Sproxton began paving the way for his departure last year when he and Lord handed 75% of Aardman to the company’s employees. The shares were transferred into a trust, which manages them on behalf of staff to help maintain the studio’s independence.
Aardman is preparing to launch its latest movie A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon — distributed by StudioCanal — on October 18. It posted revenue of £30.7M ($38.3M) in 2017, with a pre-tax profit of £2.3M ($2.8M), according to its most recent accounts.