Irish IT player buys 51pc stake in UK firm

26 Jun 2007

Irish-headquartered and privately owned IT consultancy Clarion Consulting will see its turnover increase to €7m a year and its headcount grow to 75 people after emerged it has acquired a 51pc stake in UK firm The Planning Loft.

The company said it will not disclose the acquisition fee but said it is seeking further acquisition opportunities in the Nordics and Western Europe.

Clarion describes the move as a “strategic” one that will provide access to the lucrative UK IT market as well as accelerate its revenue growth outside domestic markets.

“The move represents a good strategic fit across both organisations in terms of complementary skillsets and service portfolio and also gives us access to a market which is roughly ten times the size of the Irish one,” explained Clarion managing director Pat Millar.

“We have committed to significant investment in The Planning Loft with a view to doubling revenues and headcount over the next 12 months. This will favourably position us to meet demand for project management and IT consulting services which is growing strongly in the UK,” Millar said.

Clarion Consulting is one of Ireland’s fastest growing private indigenous IT firms and a spokesperson has described its struggle to compete against established big five players like Accenture and Deloitte as “a bit like David and Goliath.”

The company, which prior to the acquisition employed 40 people, has succeeded in winning key business deals with blue-chip clients like Standard Life, O2, Pepsico and the HSE.

While the Clarion spokesperson would not reveal the company’s pre-acquisition turnover, domestic revenues at the company have been growing 50pc a year through the addition of blue-chip customers across public and private sectors.

“Much of our recent organic growth has come from financial services,” said Millar. “We aim to consolidate our footprint in this market and also focus on expanding our presence in government and technology sectors into the future.”

Millar added that the Clarion group of companies will grow through a combination of organic growth and acquisition. “We are actively seeking other acquisition opportunities in the Nordics and Western Europe with a view to offering clients flexible and practical solutions to real business issues and a refreshing alternative to traditional consultancy,” he said.

The Planning Loft was founded by Robert Hughes and Lawrence Young and provides a range of Program and Project Management services to large organisations.

The company’scustomer portfolio which includes blue-chip organisations such as DHL, Citigroup, Vodafone and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

“We are very excited about this move,” said Robert Hughes, managing director of The Planning Loft. “Being part of a larger group will allow us to accelerate our growth and offer a wider range of services to our blue chip customer base. There is a close cultural fit between both organisations and we look forward to working with Clarion Consulting going forward.”

By John Kennedy