Accenture pushes deeper into advertising with Karmarama deal

07 December 2016 Consultancy.uk

Accenture has acquired Karmarama, a London-based creative agency, in what is regarded as a dramatic move by a consulting firm to move into the advertising space. The deal sees Karmarama’s more than 250 employees transfer to Accenture Interactive, part of Accenture Digital, with key leadership remaining in place.

Karmarama is a UK-based creative design agency, focused on creating advertising campaigns, data-driven content and mobile platforms, among others, for its clients from a range of industries. The agency was founded in 2000, with a small team of four professionals, and has since grown, in part through backing from Phoenix Equity Partners in 2011, into a team of more than 260. Major clients to the agency include the BBC, Confused.com, Honda, Just Eat and Unilever.

Accenture’s acquisition of Karmarama boosts the firm’s presence in the increasingly strategically important design consultancy segment. The agency becomes a wider part of Accenture Digital, strengthening the ability of Accenture Interactive to provide and deliver integrated customer experiences to brands in the UK and internationally. 

The deal, the value of which has not been disclosed, will see the agency’s key people, including Executive Chairman Jon Wilkins, CEO Ben Bilboul, CSO Sid McGrath and CCO Nik Studzinski remain in their positions, while taking on additional leadership responsibilities within Accenture Interactive for the regions of Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America (EALA) – focused on driving brand strategy and creativity.

Accenture Interactive acquires Karmarama

Brian Whipple, head of Accenture Interactive, remarks on the deal, “Karmarama will become part of the world’s largest digital agency, expanding our global capabilities across experience, marketing, content and commerce with excellence in creative and mobile. This will contribute to further differentiate Accenture Interactive as a new breed of agency – experience architects – which helps brands connect disconnected experiences and shares accountability with clients for their business outcomes.”

The move will, according to Whipple, help set Accenture apart from competitors like IBM, Deloitte, and the services offered by advertising holding companies. "Now Accenture can help design customer experiences, build them, run them, and have an agency to lead on creative", he adds. 

Accenture has been pushing strongly into the consulting – creative space in recent years; the firm was named by AdAge as the world’s biggest and fastest growing digital agency network in 2016, on the back of organic growth, as well as an aggressive M&A strategy. Among the most notable deals are the acquisitions of design agency Fjord in 2013, Chaotic Moon (US), PacificLink (Hong Kong), and, more recently, 2nd Road in Australia and IMJ Corporation in Japan.

Ben Bilboul, Karmarama's CEO says that the firm is “looking forward” to extending its creative ideas across the entire customer experience, offering clients consistent and connected creativity. He adds, “We believe this is a genuinely game-changing moment for clients and for our team, who will now have even greater opportunity to work with leading global brands across international markets.”

Deals in the consulting – design landscape

Competition in the landscape between consulting and creative services has been heating up of late. Examples of deals concluded in the past year include, among others, Deloitte Digital’s acquisition of Digital One (Poland); Synechron’s purchase of Usable (US); Deloitte’s purchase of Heat (US); the deal between Capgemini Consulting and Fahrenheit 212 (US) and IBM’s acquisition of Resource/Ammirati (US).

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SQW Group purchases property-based regeneration consultancy

19 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

UK consulting firm SQW Group has completed its first acquisition since it completed a management buyout in January 2019. BBP Regeneration joins the company having collaborated with SQW for more than 20 years.

Established in 1983, SQW Group now operates all over the world. Comprising SQW, Oxford Innovation, Oxford Innovation Services – one of the UK’s leading innovation centre operators – and Oxford Investment Opportunities Network, the organisation’s origins can be traced to Britain’s two ancient university cities: Oxford, through Oxford Trust founders, Martin and Audrey Wood, and Cambridge, through SQW’s work in producing The Cambridge Phenomenon.

The consultancy specialises in public policy, working with entities from the public, private and voluntary sectors to research, develop, implement and evaluate social and economic development interventions. It now employs over 250 people across regional offices in London, Oxford and Edinburgh, and provides business support to over 4,000 entrepreneurs and small businesses each year. At the start of 2019, SQW secured its independence in a management buyout, advised on by M&A experts from Liberty Corporate Finance and Penningtons Manches.

SQW Group purchases property-based regeneration consultancy

SQW has strengthened its position as a provider of services across the business spectrum with the acquisition of BBP Regeneration. Founded in 1994, the consulting firm specialises in land and property-based regeneration and growth schemes, and is a leading social and economic development consultancy. 

The two firms first worked together over 20 years ago, when SQW and BBP collaborated to develop the first Regional Economic Strategy for the South East. More recently, they developed an economic strategy for Thanet and are now working together in locations stretching from Cwmbran via Oxfordshire to London.

With the addition of BBP, SQW can now provide an integrated advisory service for organisations developing property schemes which deliver economic benefit to their local area. By joining SQW, meanwhile, BBP hopes to further enhance its ability to support clients in delivering property and place-making ambitions. 

Speaking about the deal, SQW CEO David Crichton-Miller commented, “The UK more than ever needs solutions to the challenges of places – of high streets under threat, of meeting housing delivery targets, and of both economically over-successful and economically challenged towns and cities – and the combination of SQW and BBP is uniquely suited to developing those solutions. [This deal] brings together critical and complementary services relating to places to serve our clients with leading edge and practical advice.”

Andy Smith, Director of BBP Regeneration, added, “SQW shares with BBP the same values of seeking to provide outstanding, practical, real world advice that helps get buildings built and places developed.  We greatly look forward to the opportunities that come from joining our two organisations together.”