QVARTZ expands into the Netherlands through joint venture with Boer & Croon

08 January 2018 Consultancy.eu 12 min. read

Months after expanding into the US and Singapore, Nordic-origin strategy consulting firm QVARTZ has entered the Dutch market. Through the joining of forces with Boer & Croon, a corporate finance and management firm based in Amsterdam, QVARTZ now has an on-the-ground footprint in seven countries. “We are very excited to start the collaboration and couldn't think of a better way to kick off the new year,” said CEO Hans Henrik Beck. 

Founded in 2002, in Denmark, QVARTZ is a strategy and management consulting that serves both the private and public sector. The firm’s market entry into the Netherlands, a management consulting industry valued at around €1.3 billion, roughly double the size of the Danish market, marks the next step of its ambitious globalisation agenda. 

QVARTZ’s internationalisation commenced in 2007. Five years after its inception in Copenhagen – the firm had by then conducted a number of international engagements in mainly the Nordics. The consultancy first set foot abroad with the opening of offices in neighbouring countries Sweden (Stockholm) and Norway (Oslo).

The two offices have since become an integral part of the firm’s success story – the Olso office last year booked growth of 43%, making it one of the fast growing consultancies in Norway, while its Swedish arm today boasts a team of around 60-70 consultants. The advisory group as a whole booked double-digit revenue growth in both 2016 (11%) and 2017 (13%), with its 300 staff today generating a fee income of 512 million DKK (€69 million). 

QVARTZ expands into the Dutch management consulting market

In the more recent years, the growth also built on an expansion further away from home soil. After working closely together with Bülow & Consorten for 18 months, a German management consultancy from Hamburg, QVARTZ in June last year announced the full integration of the firm into its “civilisation” – as the Danish origin consultancy calls its footprint. The move saw Bülow & Consorten’s founder Stefan Bülow, a former BCG Principal, and fifteen other advisors, including seniors Andreas Gebhardt and Frauke Wildvang (both also formerly at The Boston Consulting Group) join QVARTZ’s ranks, with the firm currently operating under the flag of BÜLOW & QVARTZ.

One month prior to the German scoop, QVARTZ had made the bold move to the US, by a distance the globe’s largest consulting industry, and home to many of the industry’s top names, including McKinsey & Company, BCG, Bain & Company and Strategy& – a league of consultancies with which QVARTZ positions itself alongside. “We are a next practice alternative to the American incumbents in our industry,” stated Niels Reiff Koggersbøl, one of QVARTZ’s leaders and responsible for the Dutch expansion.

QVARTZ’s rising stature

In a survey among consultants assessing both prestige and employability, QVARTZ was named Europe’s eleventh best consulting firm last year, in a list dominated by the industry’s big guns, yet its position ahead of renowned players in Europe such as Alvarez & Marsal, BearingPoint, L.E.K. Consulting and Marakon and the consulting outfits of the Big Four illustrates the firm’s rapid rise in stature. In fact, the firm’s track record for a large part builds on the track record of the established players, with a large share of its senior team holding backgrounds at top-tier competitors. An analysis by Consultancy.eu on the firm’s partner team reveals that around 70% have previously served ‘MBB’, with more than 15% coming from a Big Four background.

However, QVARTZ emphasises that it does things differently, “We utilise a unique alternative to the traditional consulting model, with less dependence on standard methodologies and more emphasis on listening and giving advice based on the client's specific challenges and opportunities as well as our specific insight and experience. In our work, we emphasise rigorous analysis, but also active implementation support in order to ensure impact and sustainable change,” writes the firm on its Linkedin page. The consultancy delivers on its claim through a resourcing model that is typically less pyramid-based than its peers, with junior consultants comprising a smaller share of engagement teams, and through a model that leans more on cooperation and flexible staffing. According to data released by QVARTZ, the firm has a pool of over 800+ experts globally that it can tap into for up scaling its delivery work, either to staff unfilled roles or fill in expert positions – last year more than 400 externals were actually staffed on projects . 

The firm’s latest move prior to going Dutch was its venture into Asia. After gaining experience at Accenture, Mercer, Pacific Strategy Partners (an Australian management consulting firm acquired by Monitor Deloitte in 2014) and Deloitte, Amanda Chin joined QVARTZ to spearhead the firm’s ambitions in the fast growing Asia Pacific region. Since its launch in October last year, the firm’s Singapore office has managed to attract a number of high-profile clients, including Danish industrial supplier Grundfos, and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, for which Singapore is its key base for running its APAC operations

Quote - Hans Henrik Beck

The Netherlands

The strategic alliance with Boer & Croon follows a period of rigorous planning by QVARTZ’s M&A team. Europe remains the anchor of its strategy, and following Germany, the Netherlands was the next logical country to enter, said Koggersbøl. “The Danish and Dutch have a similar culture, plus we believe Boer & Croon is a great fit with our offerings and culture.” Founded in 1973, Boer & Croon is one of the most reputable consultancies in the country. The firm, based in Amsterdam, provides its clients with management services, including executive and interim staffing, as well as young professionals, and corporate finance services, spanning M&A, transaction support, financial advisory and restructuring.

Boer & Croon’s reputation was recently confirmed by a survey of over 2,500 managers, which saw the firm ranked as one of the Netherlands’ top fifteen consultancies for both of if its core service areas: interim management and corporate finance. “In order to solidify our European presence and move closer to our largest markets, we have teamed up with Boer & Croon,” remarked Koggersbøl, who prior to joining QVARTZ served both BCG and McKinsey. 

The partnership between QVARTZ and Boer & Croon sees the two parties launch a new joint venture company, with QVARTZ holding a 75% stake. Branded as QVARTZ Boer & Croon, the consultancy will focus on strategy consulting and management consulting services, in a move that sees Boer & Croon return to the segment it left in 2014 following the firm’s darkest period in its history. “With the collaboration with QVARTZ, one of the top three strategy consultants in the Nordics, we can even better serve our clients. It is the next step in the further growth of our company,” said Jos Zandhuis, an executive at the Dutch consultancy.

Zandhuis’s comments are backed by recent Danish data, which shows that in its home country QVARTZ is in fact larger than all three of the ‘MBB’. McKinsey, the globe’s largest strategy consultancy, employs 155 employees in Denmark, BCG has 146 employees on its payroll, while Bain trails considerably with around 40 consultants. QVARTZ has a team of 190 professionals in Denmark, of which 145 consultants, with the firm pitching and operating on a similar playing field. The Danish consultancy for instance worked side-by-side with McKinsey on a large transformation at Postnord, Denmark’s government-owned postal agency, while at the digital side of the spectrum, QVARTZ won a Microsoft Partner Award testimony to its customer work in digital operations and for a series of thought leadership reports. Other large clients QVARTZ serves in Denmark include airline SAS, the Danish government, Danish Crown, Grundfos, Falck and Danske Bank.

Return to consulting for Boer & Croon

After Boer & Croon came into financial difficulties in 2014, the firm dropped consulting from its portfolio, now, three years down the line, Zandhuis says the time is right for the re-launch. The company has grown back to a size of around 90 core team professionals, with its interim network spanning over 500 managers while it at the same time has professionalised its two main service areas to meet the needs of the renewed consulting landscape, dubbed by Consulting 4.0 by many analysts. “We are seeing growing demand at our clients for strategic services,” he said. Data from Consultancy.nl, a Dutch platform the consulting industry, shows that growth is picking up strongly in the Netherlands. In 2016, the country’s top consulting firms averaged growth of 8%, with 2017 touted as an even better year on the back of a double-digit growth forecast. The market for strategy and management consultancy services is estimated to account for 35% - 40% of the broader Dutch management advisory industry, with growth, business model redesign and digital disruption the key themes top of mind of executives’ agenda.

Jesper Kjerside, Jesper Adeltoft en Niels Reiff Koggersbol, Jos Zandhuis

Asked about why Boer & Croon decided to partner with QVARTZ – as opposed to returning to the scene independently – Zandhuis said, “QVARTZ has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the areas of strategy, commercial excellence, digital transformation en operational performance. But just as important is that both parties also connect in terms of culture and way of working. At QVARTZ people are central, the consulting approach revolves around a practical mindset, they work closely with clients and are open to cooperation with other parties that have complementary knowledge. This is a perfect match with the values of Boer & Croon, our culture and way of working.” 

QVARTZ Boer & Croon

To lead QVARTZ Boer & Croon, QVARTZ has dedicated three partners – Jesper Kjerside (day-to-day responsible), Jesper Adeltoft en Niels Reiff Koggersbol – to the Netherlands, while Boer & Croon has positioned its staff with consulting experience to serve the new firm. Leveraging the network of the Dutch consultancy, QVARTZ Boer & Croon expect to enjoy a flying start. Over the past months the firms have, as part of the due diligence phase, explored targets that could provide for the first series of engagements, with “several projects” already lined up, according to Zandhuis. 

Commenting on why QVARTZ opted for a partnership approach against acquiring such as in Germany, Kjerside said: “We did not find any relevant acquisition targets that met all our criteria. Boer & Croon has a unique market access and a solid presence in the management ranks of clients. They are in addition known for transformational work, which is a good match to our ‘value realising’ approach. 

As the portfolio of projects grows, QVARTZ Boer & Croon will ramp up its team through a joint approach. QVARTZ will staff engagements through its global consultants network, while Boer & Croon can either bring forward its young executives for junior consulting roles, or its network of interim managers, of which many have a consulting background, to fill senior roles.

Kjerside and Zandhuis jointly conclude by stating: “Building on each other’s’ strengths, we firmly believe we have what it takes to successfully nestle ourselves as a powerful and mature player in the management consulting industry.”