North Highland arm Spark Grove expands with footprint in London

24 January 2017

Sparks Grove has expanded its footprint to London, its seventh office globally. The customer service and experience focused advisory agency has an initial team of 18 experts at the office and will focus on providing additional services capabilities to the firm's UK and EMEA clients.

Sparks Grove is an in 2006 opened division of consulting firm North Highland. The customer services and experience focused advisory agency, which is focused on improving the customers’ experience by “designing and building meaningful human experiences rooted in foresight and insight,” is part of the wider development of omnichannel services in line with digitalisation. The agency's expertise includes experience design, marketing strategy, user engagement, customer research and insights, creative communications, digital and design development, and employee engagement, among others. The agency has six established locations across the US.

North Highlands Spark Grove expands with footprint in London

The agency recently announced that it has taken the step across the Atlantic, opening an office in London. The office creates a solid footprint on the ground in the UK for Spark Grove, at its parent North Highland’s office in London. The new office location is initially staffed by 18 team members from Spark Grove, many of whom are already assigned to strategic projects for clients in, among others, the fast food and telecommunications industries.

“With Sparks Grove presence already established across the US in major markets including Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, New York, San Francisco and Seattle, we are excited to expand our experience design capability to London,” says Global Head of Sparks Grove Elizabeth Searcy. “Diversity of thought and experience is paramount to who Sparks Grove is, and the addition of our London team continues to enhance this quality. Having just celebrated the 10-year anniversary of Sparks Grove, it’s a great next step in our story to grow our global agency capabilities.”

Charles Vivian, London Market Lead for North Highland adds, “Officially launching the Sparks Grove brand in London allows us to enhance the services we offer to our clients. I welcome the talent, creativity and insightful thinking of our Sparks Grove team members and know they will all play an integral role in supporting our clients’ success in the UK.”


Newcastle consulting firm opens Baghdad office

05 April 2019

A Newcastle-based consultancy has announced it will open its first office in Iraq. The news comes despite warnings that the area remains “high risk” for businesses.

16 years after the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the nation remains a shadow of its former self. The continued chaos wrought by the Iraq War – which eventually played a role in the rise to prominence of Daesh, further destabilising the region – means that even now, the nation’s capital is deemed to have the lowest quality of living in the world. According to a recent survey from Mercer, Baghdad ranked last overall – immediately below Bangui of the Central African Republic and Damascus in Syria – despite the other two being determined as the worst cities on the planet for personal safety.

However, as with the wider Middle East, the oil-rich state presents a lucrative destination to businesses willing to take the risk. To that end, a Newcastle recruitment consultancy has announced the opening of its first presence in Iraq’s capital city. Samuel Knight has taken the decision to open its Baghdad locale in order to grow its business in the Middle East.

Newcastle consulting firm opens Baghdad office

While businesses remain wary of the region, Samuel Knight specialises in recruiting talent in the energy and rail sectors, and in a release it said the new office would continue to focus on these areas. It will also allow the firm to make sure it abides by local compliance laws. The new location will be headed up by Haider Kadhim, Samuel Knight’s Iraq country manager, who will work as the first point of contact for clients and candidates. Representatives from the Department of Trade Industry are expected to attend a launch event for the office, which will be held this month.

Commenting on the new office,  a spokesperson for Samuel Knight said, “We probably don’t see it as a risk, but more of an opportunity, as we operate in the Middle East extensively already. We have contacts in place in the country location and with the consultants we have. We felt it was a great opportunity to expand into a country we are already doing work in. It means we have an on-the-ground team to help our clients. From our perspective, it is that we are looking to expand into new territories, but we are also supporting countries that are starting to redevelop after years of warfare.”

Steve Rawlingson, CEO at Samuel Knight, said, “Our aggressive five-year growth plan is manifesting at  an impressive rate, taking the company to exciting new territories. The team is working diligently to surpass expectations set out in the plan, and to ensure Samuel Knight is cemented as the leading global energy and rail recruitment specialist. Our Baghdad office will give us a distinctive edge over our competition and allow for more exciting business opportunities. Once the office becomes more established and client acquisition develops, we will certainly be adding more consultants and manpower in the city.”