Search and intelligence consultancy Armstrong Craven in MBO


Specialist executive search and intelligence consultancy Armstrong Craven has announced that it has secured a £3.5m investment from Livingbridge to complete a management buy out. The deal – led by Armstrong Craven’s founder Sue Craven and CEO Matthew Mellor, with COO Rachel Davis – will establish the business as a separate entity from its former parent company Work Group plc.

The deal was advised on by the Manchester office of Clearwater Corporate Finance.

CEO Mellor said: “This investment will support Armstrong Craven as it continues to expand its international footprint by targeting new geographies and opening international offices in North America and South East Asia. It will also support the development of the infrastructure, operations and people; enabling the business to build on strong relationships with existing clients and create new opportunities for growth,”

Nick Holder who, together with Pete Clarke led the deal on behalf of Livingbridge, will join the board of Armstrong Craven. Holder comments: “In an environment where there is a growing global shortage of talent, a heightened requirement to manage succession planning and diversity in the workforce, we foresee an increased demand for Armstrong Craven to support clients investment in strategic workforce planning. The Businesses differentiated proposition developed over many years means it is ideally placed to support national and international clients with these issues. We very much look forward to partnering with the team to help facilitate their ambitious growth plans.”

Established by Sue Craven in 1990, Armstrong Craven began life as an outsourced partner to traditional recruitment practices. Since then, the business has evolved to become a highly regarded provider of senior talent and HR intelligence to leading global corporates in over 120 countries across all continents. In 2005 the business was acquired by Work Group, prior to a listing on AIM in 2007. The company lists global, national and local organisations in its client portfolio, including many Fortune 500 and FTSE listed businesses.

With offices in Manchester and London, Armstrong Craven provides a combination of search and HR intelligence services to help organisations attract, retain and develop the talented individuals they need. Recruiting for senior executive, non-executive and specialist niche roles, Armstrong Craven’s multi-national teams operate in key industry sectors; from financial and professional services, to healthcare and life sciences, FMCG and retail, technology and not-for-profit.

Services also include supporting with workforce planning (diversity issues, organisation design, succession planning); business intelligence and HR consultancy. Armstrong Craven operates on a customised, flexible basis, which has been designed to give their clients much greater ownership and control.

Clearwater Corporate Finance advised the management of Armstrong Craven on the transaction. The deal team comprised partner Michael Reeves and assistant director Chiara Pettinicchio from Clearwater’s Manchester office.

Michael Reeves said: “Armstrong Craven has grown into a leading specialist in intelligence and research, serving blue-chip clients. This MBO will provide it with the capital to pursue new revenue streams and expand into new territories, including Singapore and the US. Livingbridge is the perfect partner to support this strategy.”

Legal advice to Livingbridge was provided by Gregg Davison and Andy Phillips of Pinsent Masons in Manchester. Chris Heatlie and Sarah Cumming of BDO Manchester practice provided financial due diligence advice. Tom Raymond at Armstrong Transaction Services provided commercial diligence on the transaction.