Deloitte Digital acquires Swedish creative consultancy Acne Agency

18 August 2017

Leading Swedish creative organisation Acne Agency has been snapped by Deloitte Digital, as the demand for a holistic technology, consulting and creative solution in response to dynamic market changes continues to drive consulting firms to expand their design solution offerings. The agency has worked with clients including IKEA, H&M and Spotify.

Growing competition within the advertising sphere has led to growing revenues in recent years amid a glut of new start-up agencies, as customer journeys become an ever more important way for brands to differentiate themselves as well as meet cross-channel consumer expectations. Technological developments, including big data, analytics as well as whole new channels through which companies can engage with customers and provide meaningful experiences, have brought with them significant quantitative challenges to the traditionally creative market.

Increasingly this has led to consulting firms looking to the acquisition of design and marketing firms in order to provide complete, tailored solutions for clients looking to overhaul their company and engage with customers more directly. While access to this booming market is predominantly the motive behind the consulting industry breaking into the sector, the analytical capacity of firms like BCG, Accenture and McKinsey enable their newly acquired design arms, usually comprising of start-ups, to demonstrate to clients the value of their work – something increasingly important when justifying their pricing in a competitive market.

Deloitte Digital acquires Swedish creative consultancy Acne Agency

Big Four professional services firm Deloitte are no different in this respect, having built an expanding design services offering in the form of Deloitte Digital. The label has acquired a number of high-profile creative agencies, most recently including Market Gravity and HEAT, which as a subsidiary of Deloitte Digital expanded into a new office in New York in 2016.

Now, Deloitte Digital has completed further expansion of its capacity, having acquired Stockholm-based creative agency Acne for an undisclosed fee. According to Deloitte figures, Acne brought in roughly $32 million in revenue in their most recent fiscal year. The Swedish firm was founded in 1996, working with notable clients including IKEA, Spotify and H&M since then. The creative agency gained attention in the summer of 2017 for creating a humorous ad for the Swedish home-furnishing retailer, which referenced luxury brand Balenciaga making a $2,145 version of IKEA’s iconic blue reusable bags.

"The perfect match"

Acne Executive Chairman Victor Press claimed the agency had been approached “by a number of actors” over the years, but “found the match was perfect” with Deloitte, which will help bring more technology and data analysis to its creative capabilities and grow the agency into new markets. As it is clear from Press’ statement, Deloitte is not alone in its efforts to enter the design marketplace. Management consulting firms, which once primarily worked with chief executives and chief information officers, are increasingly making agency acquisitions and encroaching on a space.

According to the most recent data from Ad Age’s (based on 2016 revenues), PwC, Accenture Interactive, IBM and Deloitte Digital make up four of the top 10 biggest providers of advertising services in the world. The majority of the agency acquisitions made by consulting companies to date have been relatively small, despite most of them having the financial clout to buy far bigger firms. Instead, consultancies have favoured purchasing new, innovative market disruptors, with new or flexible working methods – McKinsey’s obtaining of fellow Swedish firm Veryday in late 2016 being exemplary of this.

Deloitte Digital now plans to hire around 80 new employees across North West Europe, with 40 of those based in the UK, doubling the size of Acne’s current team who will remain after the deal. Deloitte Digital has also appointed one of Havas London’s former executive creative directors, Andy Sandoz, as a partner and chief creative officer to lead Deloitte’s creative services in the UK.

Sandoz left Havas in April, splitting with Ben Mooge, his creative partner of nine year, as Mooge stayed at Havas as the sole executive creative director.

On his new role at Deloitte, Sandoz said, "I believe creativity is more commercially and socially impactful when applied to the whole business, beyond just marketing. My best work-to-date has been using ideas backed by new technologies to help redefine my clients’ businesses for a better future. With Deloitte Digital we have the ability, credibility and access to totally transform a business. I was impressed with the consultancy’s senior relationships and depth of expertise across multiple industries, our strong cultural fit and shared positive vision."


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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.”