TP Advise on MBO of Manchester based Consumer Insight Agency

Join the Dots, a Manchester-headquartered consumer insight agency that works with clients including Unilever, GlaxoSmithKline and the BBC has undergone a management buyout. The business was founded by previous majority shareholders Pete and Trish Comley in 1998.

Headquartered in the Northern Quarter area of Manchester with additional offices in London and Singapore, Join the Dots provides consumer insight across the glove to clients through a combination of primary research and the latest thinking in psychology, behavioural economics and consumers trends. The company's client portfolio includes Unilever, GlaxoSmithKline, the BBC, the Co-op, Diageo, British Airways, Tesco and Nationwide. Join the Dots grew revenues by 26 per cent to £9.8m in 2016. It previously recorded an increase of 27 per cent in 2015 and 25 per cent in 2014.

Join the Dots was founded by previous majority shareholders Pete and Trish Comley in 1998. Turner Parkinson, HSBC and Mazars have supported the vendor-initiated buyout by the senior management team.

The terms of the deal involve the Comleys reducing their shareholding, with Trish Comley stepping down as chairman. Pete Comley will remain on the board as a non-executive director along with senior management team leaders Quentin Ashby, the managing director, and Graeme Lawrence, the sales and marketing director.

Ashby said: "The thanks of myself, Graeme and the rest of the senior management team goes to Pete and Trish for providing us with this opportunity. As the majority shareholders in the business, and with the support of HSBC, we believe we are in a really strong position moving forward - we will be in a position to continue to invest in our great people and in the required technology to meet our future plans for the business."

Pete Comley added: "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 onto. We know it will be in safe hands."

David Easdown, Corporate Partner, “Join the Dots is a fantastic fast-growing business and we are delighted to have advised management throughout the transaction. It’s great to see an independent Manchester business thriving in a global marketplace and we are excited to see Join the Dots continue its rapid growth and success.”