PA Consulting Group acquires digital consultancy Sparkler

17 May 2018 3 min. read
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London-based digital marketing and analytics consultancy Sparkler has been purchased by PA Consulting for an undisclosed fee. The deal sees PA add 60 experts to its digital and strategic expertise, as the firm looks to utilise acquisitions to build on a strong 2017.

On the advice of Chairman Marcus Agius, in 2015 PA brought on board private equity backing in the shape of US firm The Carlyle Group. The funds have since been put to work to further fuel the firm’s upward trajectory via inorganic means. This saw PA complete its first large-scale acquisition since 2012, with the purchase of aviation consultancy Nyras. The purchase helped boost fee income, which leapt upward by 6%, hitting £400 million in 2017, while EBITDA was boosted by an even more impressive 25%, hitting £65 million – a higher margin of success than the firm even saw in its golden years.

Having seen the potential success targeted acquisitions can yield PA Consulting has made it two acquisitions in two years with the signing of digital strategy advisory Sparkler. PA Consulting Group has over 2,600 professionals at its command, and a global presence spanning 18 countries. The advisory firm provides business consultancy, technology and innovation services to clients across industries, with public sector work representing about half of its revenues. As the group moves to position itself in a consulting market increasingly looking to tap into the digital analytics and design space in search of growth, the acquisition will see PA strengthen itself in line with a global industrial trend.

PA Consulting Group acquires digital consultancy Sparkler

Founded in 2001 and headquartered in London, Sparkler boasts a headcount of more than 60 employees, and the digital insight and strategy consultancy’s customer insight, brand strategy and service design expertise will now move with them to complement PA’s existing innovation, digital and strategy expertise offering. Prior to the agreement, Sparkler worked with a selection of the world’s most advanced digital brands and blue-chip companies, including Microsoft, eBay, Diageo, Electrolux, Sainsbury’s, Sky and Uber, and last year the firm won a Best Agency award at the Market Research Society awards. The financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Andy Katz, who leads PA’s strategy team, said, “Customer needs, behaviours and expectations are changing at an unprecedented pace. At the same time, the traditional distinction between products and services is blurring, with new ways to create value emerging. Many markets are now being disrupted both from within and by new entrants. As a result, it’s vital that organisations get even closer to their customers and create relevant products fast. At PA, we believe in the power of ingenuity to build a positive human future in a technology-driven world and Sparkler’s expertise in the human side of our digital world is a great addition.”

Sparkler’s founding partners, John Robson and Magnus Willis, added, “We are very excited about joining PA. Sparkler has seen excellent growth over the past three years as demand for digital insight and strategy has increased. Becoming part of PA enables us to continue on this upward trajectory. Understanding the human side of the digital world is essential to all businesses and we will now be able to bring our expertise to more clients, in more markets, more swiftly. PA’s broader expertise will also help us to meet more of our clients’ needs, while providing great opportunities for our people.”