Virtrium Consulting joins Chaucer to create £35 million turnover firm

17 January 2019

Farnborough-based IT consultancy Virtrium Consulting has joined Chaucer, a digital transformation consulting firm based in London. The deal creates a combined group of more than 300 consultants in the UK and US, generating a turnover of over £35 million.

Founded more than 30 years ago by Bob and Chris Laslett, consulting firm Chaucer initially based its operations in providing advisory services to the oil, nuclear and construction industries. After three decades of rapid change, however, the firm now also provides digital transformation services to many of the world’s largest companies across energy, life sciences, financial services, government and technology, media and telecommunications.

Following a 2014 management buyout (MBO) led by co-founder and CEO Chris Laslett, the firm brought external investment into the company to help accelerate growth. Following five years of solid organic growth, Chaucer has now in the latest chapter of its expansion agenda turned to M&A. The acquisition of IT consultancy Virtrium Consulting adds around 50 consultants (employees and associates) to its footprint in the UK.

Founded in 2006 – and still owned and managed by its three founding directors Tim Cray, Ed Dennehy, John Duffin – the Farnborough headquartered company largely focuses on helping businesses maximise the effectiveness of IT operations. The management and digital consultancy firm has over the last decade helped some 250 organisations define IT strategies and optimise their technology service models.Virtrium Consulting joins Chaucer to create £35 million turnover firm

Commenting on the deal, Chaucer CEO Chris Laslett said, “I am delighted to welcome Virtrium to the Chaucer family. Together we are ideally suited to help transform how our clients think, work and change to truly deliver value from digital technologies and data.”

The joining of forces between the two players builds on a period of close collaboration between the two firms, explained Martin Wassell, a partner at Chaucer. "We’ve been partnering for over a year and have got to know each other pretty well. It’s our shared vision of how consulting should be done and aligned culture more than our complementary sectors, clients and services that led us to the conclusion that together, we’d be a great proposition for clients and our employees."

A £35 million consultancy

The merger between Chaucer and Virtrium will create an independent "end-to-end digital transformation consultancy" with a turnover of more than £35 million. The group has around 250 consultants in the UK, and a further 50 consultants in New York and Houston in the US.

Chaucer's management believes the firm now presents a genuine alternative to Big Four consultancies across the energy, pharmaceutical, financial services, consumer products and public sectors, with Chaucer having recently been recognised by the Financial Times as one of the UK’s leading digital consulting companies.

The integration sees Virtrium partners Tim Cray, Ed Dennehy and John Duffin join Chaucer as a partner*. Duffin has been tasked with leading the integration of the businesses, and after completion, he will step back from day to day management and focus on delivery at selected clients.

Wassell: "In the short term, nothing changes and Virtrium will continue to go to market under its own brand. Medium term, we’re looking to consolidate under a single Chaucer brand advising on and delivering end to end digital transformation services to clients around innovation, digital strategy, technology and data, and transformation delivery."

“We are very excited to join Chaucer, allowing us to offer clients an enhanced range of transformation capabilities," concluded Dennehy.

* Chaucer's partner team consists of Chris Laslett, Martin Wassell, Deborah Young, Paul Burke, Richard Thwaite, Natalia Sokolova, Thomas Fletcher, Charlie Sutton and Julie Freeman.

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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.”