Case study: Acora

14-03-2024

Adding scale and service capability to an IT-managed service provider – Acora provides IT support and cloud solutions to help mid-market organisations modernise infrastructure and operate in the digital economy. It offers a full-service suite, from service desk to cloud transformation and ongoing managed service of cloud applications and infrastructure.

Backing best-in-class cloud transformation – Acora was founded over 25 years ago in West Sussex. Acora now has offices in London, Birmingham, Milton Keynes and Bath and has won multiple awards for service excellence, including being ranked a Top 10 Managed Service Provider globally.

Throughout the process, we were continuously impressed by the quality of Acora’s senior management team, their strategy, and the foresight they have shown in investing in high-quality people and processes ahead of growth.

The business transitioned from a service desk provider to offering best-in-class cloud transformation and ongoing support services. The team had created an excellent platform to deliver fast-paced growth via acquisition and additional investment in people and services.

We invested £15m, and Palatine partners Tony Dickin and Andy Strickland joined the board as Non-Executive Directors.

Going for growth with added value

Revenue growth – Acora leveraged its vertical focus on legal, insurance and professional services to deliver strong organic growth. The team were also successful in acquiring new clients, which they could cross-sell services to alongside existing customers through the expansion of Acora’s service offering.

A customer-centric approach was core to Acora’s business plan, and significant investment was made in bringing service excellence and great user experiences to all. A suite of certified management systems was also created to ensure the highest standards of quality, security, service management and business continuity. This resulted in more than 20% organic growth over the investment period

Strategic M&A – Acora completed five acquisitions during our investment; this allowed the business to augment its operations in London and expand to Bristol and Norwich, giving full coverage of the South of England. The acquisition of Secrutiny, a leading UK cybersecurity provider, also added security to Acora’s managed IT services offer.

Operational effectiveness – Acora automated its customer service operations by significantly investing in ServiceNow, an automation platform that streamlines employees’ workloads. We also introduced dedicated management for the Project Team, which improved processes within the division. A strategy was also developed to implement a contact centre in South Africa.

Digitalisation –  We supported the development of a new digital marketing strategy to align with the vertical focus of the business. The proposition focused more on customer experience, moving the company from a delivery partner to a strategic partner.

ESG – We worked with the team to develop and roll out a HR strategy that put learning and development, employee engagement, recruitment, D&I and wellbeing at the heart of the business. This led to Acora being named ‘One to Watch’ by Best Companies in 2022.

The results – The exit generated a return of more than 3x the original investment in under three years. In that time, we doubled revenues to over £60m and the company’s headcount increased from 300 to  over 550 people.

 

I’d like to extend my thanks to Palatine Private Equity for their support over the last 30 months. From the outset, they have been a supportive investor and have been true to their word throughout; we now have the strongest possible platform for future growth.

David Rabson

CEO at Acora