PwC establishes Research arm with acquisition of Optimisa Research

10 August 2017

PwC have acquired UK company Optimisa Research to create a new Belfast-based global research arm, which will enable the Big Four firm to grow their advisory presence within the financial services sector.

Big Four consultancy PwC has purchased Optimisa Research, a full service agency with offices in Belfast, London and Leeds. Optimisa has distinct strengths in the financial services sector, which PwC will hope to leverage for increased access to a key industry sector where the firm remains keen to expand. The agency, which commands over 30 years of experience in conducting qualitative and quantitative projects, has an annual turnover of around £4 million and employs 45 staff, who will all join PwC.

Together the new merged teams totalling 100 research professionals will become PwC Research, a new label which will provide clients with consumer-led connected insight to local, national and international businesses, and will operate from the Optimisa’s former Waterfront Plaza headquarters in Belfast. The merger will also enable PwC’s research brand to boast a national and regional reach immediately, thanks to the previously mentioned London and Leeds offices also acquired in the deal.

PwC and Optimisa

PwC's consulting business already hosts prominent AI, analytics, cyber-security and fintech arms, among others, as the professional services giant seeks to diversify its business to counterbalance an ailing audit portfolio. The firm’s traditional primary source of revenue has come under pressure from increased accountancy regulations recently, while losing prominent contracts to rival Big Four firms.

According to PwC Northern Ireland partner Honor Mallon, "Incorporating the extensive skills of the Optimisa team with our existing business is key to differentiating our service and accelerating growth. We are already providing research and insight to PwC clients globally and this acquisition will expand our capacity to deliver integrated quantitative and qualitative insights to both business and consumer-facing clients.”

Marco Amitrano, UK Head of Consulting at PwC, meanwhile described it as a "significant addition" for the company which would "support ambitious growth plans over the next few years".

"It will also support our strategic priority to bring more connected insight to our clients as they tackle increasingly complex business transformation challenges and seek opportunities for growth that arise from disruption in their industries," he added.

Following the acquisition of Optimisa, the combined PwC Research business will offer clients specialist knowledge in sectors including retail, utilities, banking and financial services. These will include business-to-business, business-to-consumer and business-to-employee research, supported by strong data analytics, and PwC’s global consulting expertise.



SQW Group purchases property-based regeneration consultancy

19 April 2019

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.”