MBO at consumer insight agency

L-R: James Rosthorn (Mazars), David Hilton (Mazars), Pete Comley (JtD), Trish Comley (JtD), Graeme Lawrence (JtD) & Quentin Ashby (JtD)

The senior management team at Manchester-based consumer insight agency Join the Dots have completed a management buyout for an undisclosed sum.

Headquartered in Manchester’s Northern Quarter in the city centre, Join the Dots delivers consumer insight through a combination of primary research and the latest thinking in psychology, behavioural economics and consumer trends.

Its multi-national portfolio of clients includes GlaxoSmithKline, The Co-op, Diageo, British Airways, Unilever, BBC, Tesco and Nationwide.

Last year the company saw 26% growth to reach a turnover of £9.8m in 2016.

It was founded by previous majority shareholders Pete and Trish Comley in 1998 and the terms of the deal see the Comleys reducing their shareholding, with Trish stepping down as chairman. Pete will remain on the board as a non-executive director along with senior management team leaders Quentin Ashby, managing director, and Graeme Lawrence, sales & marketing director.

Pete Comley said: “We believe that being a fully private company has allowed Join the Dots to think long-term for what is best for the business and its employees. Our continued growth is a testament to the success of that strategy. Given the role played in these achievements by the management team we can’t think of a better group of people to have passed the business on to. We know it will be in safe hands.”

Graeme Lawrence said: “The deal, plus the momentum from our growth in the last five years and our comprehensive 2020 business plan, allows us to embark on the next stage of the Join the Dots story with great confidence. We’re now a 140 plus strong team across our Manchester and Singapore offices.”

The deal was led by accountancy firm Mazars and law firm Turner Parkinson, with finance provided by HSBC. Hill Dickinson acted on behalf of Pete and Trish Comley.

David Hilton from Mazars said: “Join the Dots was one of the front runners in the consumer insight market to embrace technology, and quickly established a global customer base. It has been a pleasure to work with the Manchester head quartered business, and we look forward to seeing its international expansion continue under the new ownership structure.”