Case study: Anthesis

22-01-2024

Addressing the climate crisis by delivering strong, sustainable growth – Anthesis is a fast-growing, global sustainability specialist and a proud B Corp. They are an outstanding purpose-led business that seeks to significantly contribute to a more sustainable, resilient and productive world.

A relationship built on deep cultural alignment – Anthesis was founded in 2013 on a combined conviction in the power of human ingenuity and the potential of practical action to solve the problems of the decisive decade. Headquartered in London, with a global workforce of 600 consultants across 17 countries (at the time of our initial investment), Anthesis supports leading companies, cities and organisations with financially driven sustainability strategies underpinned by deep technical expertise.

Anthesis’ mission-driven approach aligned with our long-term commitment to placing purpose and responsibility at the heart of our investment strategy. We saw tremendous growth potential in the business as more progressive companies sought expert support to embrace sustainability meaningfully.

In 2021 we invested £19.7m from across our Buyout and Impact funds. Anthesis remained majority-owned by its team, with Palatine partners Beth Houghton and Tristan Craddock joining the board as Non-Executive Directors.

Going for growth with added value 

Strategic M&A – Anthesis completed five acquisitions during our initial investment period, with one more in exclusivity. The acquired businesses spanned several new geographies and included supply chain consultancy, carbon offsetting, branding and marketing. Anthesis had no dedicated in-house M&A resource, so we worked with the team to identify acquisition targets and supported the team with integration planning and driving cross-sell projects.

Data – We worked closely with the management team to improve the use of NetSuite and Datawarehouse systems, which provided data that informed sales initiatives, pricing strategies and recruitment planning. We also enhanced reporting standards by supporting a consistent ERP system rollout across the global offices.

Digital – Anthesis Digital was created in 2021 to identify the most impactful and commercial opportunities to leverage Anthesis digitally. A roadmap was formed to develop a suite of digital tools, including RouteZero, a comprehensive digital GHG solution to accelerate actionable climate planning, investment and implementation, which launched in 2022. We supported the programme by introducing the team to digitalising services specialists from our network.

ESG – Anthesis leads by example when it comes to ESG. During our investment, Anthesis set a science-based target (SBT) through the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) and signed the B Corp Climate Collective (BCCC) to support climate emergency actions.

Anthesis rolled out a global people system, enabling employees to collaborate more effectively and have visibility of their development progress. They also launched new training and learning and development platforms to upskill employees on client challenges and provide team members with learning materials.

Anthesis established partnerships with Take Action Global (a climate education charity) and other local charities to engage employees in conservation and biodiversity work.

They also provided a 24/7 whistleblowing service and helpline and established an Ethics Council of senior Anthesis representatives to support the business with ethical dilemmas.

The results – We exited the business in 2023 in a sale to Carlyle. During our initial investment period, revenues grew significantly and the team more than doubled to 1,250 experts in 39 offices across 22 countries. The deal generated a 6x return on our initial investment, and we re-invested for a minority shareholding alongside Anthesis’ management team.

Palatine helped us realise opportunities and have more impact. We’ve grown very fast, and Palatine’s expertise enabled us to progress without suffering the growing pains many organisations encounter when trying to do things alone.

We’ve enjoyed a close working relationship with Palatine because they understand where they can support and help us, but don’t overstep the mark. They’ve brought a productive, supportive, empowering mindset to our leadership.

Stuart McLachlan

CEO at Anthesis Group