Growth Company adds Birmingham business support specialist to its portfolio

Simon Hooton

Growth Company, the Manchester-based social enterprise, has acquired Winning Moves, a Birmingham business support, research and evaluation firm, for an undisclosed sum.

The deal was concluded by Growth Company’s consulting arm, GC Insight.

The buyout bolsters GC’s growing consulting offer and will help to strengthen its infrastructure and growth across the UK.

GC established a consulting offer in 2021 with the acquisition of research and consulting company ekosgen.

Winning Moves and ekosgen will continue to both trade independently and, together with the Growth Company, under a new brand ‘GC Insight’, offering clients their combined breadth of services from its pool of 40-plus consultants for research and advisory work.

The combined team will help organisations and partnerships to plan for the future, secure investment, improve their impact and demonstrate the benefits they generate.

GC Insight delivers creative thinking on new solutions, service design for efficient delivery, technical help to secure funding and planning approvals, advice on operational performance, and economic and social impact evaluations.

Founded in 1995, Winning Moves offers two core services. It delivers support to 100,000-plus businesses in the UK and overseas with its flagship bench marking platform, Benchmarkindex, as well as its suite of additional fully customisable, customer-centric diagnostic and improvement tools, used by domestic and international governments to drive up growth and performance of businesses.

Backed by decades of expertise in data and software solutions, Winning Moves’ digital consultancy team supports local business support organisations to help SMEs increase productivity, efficiency and resilience.

The other service is the design and delivery of robust research and evaluation for organisations looking to bring about positive change for society. Winning Moves specialises in helping to answer complex, challenging and high-profile policy questions across a range of domain areas, blending detailed sector knowledge, in-depth understanding of relevant policies and specialist technical expertise.

Primarily working for government, the client base includes domestic national departments (Department Culture Media Sport, DESNZ), local government (West Midlands Combined Authority, North East Local Enterprise Partnership), publicly funded organisations (Energy Saving Trust, Waste and Resources Action programme) as well as international organisations (the Australian government, the United Nations, and Enterprise Ireland).

Winning Moves CEO, Adrian Davies, has departed the company to pursue other business interests and chief operating officer, Debs Secker, has been promoted to managing director.

Its experienced team of 23 will be working closely with GC to harness shared potential and unlock growth in research and evaluation for clients engaged in policy making, and in economic development initiatives and performance improvement services for SMEs. Working together they will also be able to support businesses through the use of Winning Moves’ diagnostics.

Simon Hooton is managing director of GC Insight and will be co-ordinating the team’s growth and diversification. He joined the Growth Company in early 2022 after previously holding the role of a senior director at Regeneris Consulting.

Mr Hooton said: “This is the culmination of many months of work and builds on GC’s commitment to create a compelling commercial consulting offer with purpose.

“Winning Moves has a really strong reputation in its core markets and a very capable team of researchers and advisors, which we want to grow. GC is committed to supporting the Winning Moves team to realise its potential in our social enterprise model alongside the rest of our GC Insight team.

“Together GC, ekosgen and Winning Moves aim to be a market leading team that helps economic development organisations and businesses improve their impact and more effectively demonstrate the benefits they generate.”

He added: “This investment allows us to deliver creative thinking on new solutions, service design for efficient delivery, technical help to secure approvals, advice on operational performance, and impact evaluation to measure value for money.”

Debs Secker

Debs Secker said: “We’re excited for the next chapter at Winning Moves. With a strong history of working collaboratively with GC, we’re confident that, together, we will be greater than the sum of our parts.

“Our existing customers can be assured that we are similarly aligned with GC regarding values and ethos, and I’m sure they will be delighted with the enriched service offering this acquisition will bring about.”

The latest acquisition means GC Insight will shortly have four office sites in Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham and London.

Growth Company was advised on the transaction by Ben Bradley and Isabelle Luscombe of Hurst’s corporate finance team and Adrian Young and Sarah Haley in Hurst’s tax team.

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