Italian consulting group BIP adds 300-strong UK firm Chaucer

14 July 2020 3 min. read

Italian consulting group BIP has acquired UK-based business consultancy Chaucer.

Chaucer was founded in 1987 and has since grown into an award-winning management consulting firm specialised in business transformation, digital, operations, agile working, technology adoption and change management. The consultancy has around 300 consultants and staff, the large majority of which are based in London, with a small operation in North America. 

In a bid to beef up its capabilities in an internationalising landscape, and accelerate its growth, Chaucer’s leadership led by co-founder and chief executive Chris Laslett last year launched a process to find a strategic or financial partner. “We were looking for an experienced partner who could support our next phase of growth, expand our global footprint, and augment our expertise at scale and pace,” explained Laslett. 

Interest in the fast-growing consulting firm – Chaucer has doubled revenue and profit since 2014, partly thanks to an acquisition – was high, and several players entered the competitive tender process. Following a due diligence, and intensive meet and greet, Italy’s BIP surfaced as the best fit on competencies (both have a strong focus on digital), culture and ambitions. 

The deal sees BIP acquire Chaucer from Growth Capital Partners, a UK SME private equity firm that financed Chaucer’s management buy-out in 2014. According to Garrett Curran, Managing Partner at the investor, joining BIP is a “fantastic opportunity” for Chaucer. Meanwhile, Growth Capital Partner bagged a “strong return” on its investment.

Chris Laslett and Carlo Capè

With offices in twelve countries globally, BIP is one of Europe’s larger home-grown consultancies. Founded in 2003 as Business Integration Partners (the firm rebranded as BIP in late 2019), the company began life as a spin-off from Deloitte Consulting. Under the direction of leaders Nino Lo Bianco, Carlo Capè (both are former Presidents of Italy’s consulting association Assoconsult) and Fabio Troiani, the firm has since grown into a group of over 3,000 professionals. 

For BIP, which is majority owned by French private equity group Apax Partners (since April 2018 in a $200 million deal), Chaucer is the largest investment in its history, adding around €70 million in revenues lifting its group turnover to an estimated €350 million at the end of 2020. 

A strategic ambition

“It is our goal to become one of the world’s leading advisory firms,” said Capé. “We are therefore delighted with this move… It represents a giant leap as we expand our portfolio around the globe.” While the deal comes at “a difficult moment” said Capé, the firms see their tie-up as a long term opportunity. “Consulting services will be the base of the economy rebuild after this dramatic pandemic, while Brexit is creating a stronger bridge between the UK and US.” 

As part of the integration, Chaucer’s Chris Laslett and Martin Wassell will lead the UK and North America operations of the combined Chaucer and BIP group. The consulting firm now has a team of over 400 consultants on the ground in the UK, US and Canada.

“This next stage of growth creates huge opportunities for both companies, by significantly increasing abilities to enable our clients to become true digital enterprises. I look forward to collaborating with our new colleagues in this truly exciting partnership,” said Laslett. 

BIP has offices in Italy, the UK, Spain, Turkey, Brazil, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, the US, the UAE, Chile and Colombia.

In related Italy – UK consulting deals, last year Long Term Partners, founded by a group of former Bain & Company partners, joined UK-origin strategy consultancy OC&C Strategy Consultants.