European IP services provider Murgitroyd makes second acquisition and becomes the largest IP practice in the UK Read more

  • Status: Current
  • Date: 2014
  • Sectors:
    • Business & Technology Services
    • Financial Services & Insurance
  • Buy & Build: 4

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Optionis, the largest employee solutions operator in the UK, joined forces with Sovereign's Arkarius Group, the UK’s largest group providing accounting services to the flexible workforce in 2017. The combined Group is now the clear UK market leader and has strong international aspiration.

Investment Background

In September 2014 Sovereign backed the simultaneous investments of SJD Accountancy and Nixon Williams forming the largest group providing accounting services to the Contractor and SME markets in the UK (Arkarius Group).

SJD had been founded in 1992 by the entrepreneur Simon Dolan. He had built SJD into a highly successful business but wished to develop his other business interests and seek the value created in the business. Ensuring that the business continued to flourish was of equal importance to him. The founders of Nixon Williams had grown their business to a strong position with particular expertise in the IT contractor market.

Both businesses wanted a buyer that understood the sector and would develop the brands, the businesses, and - importantly - the teams. The transaction was completed with Sovereign augmenting the management team to support the growth of the enhanced group.

Value Creation

  • System and back office rationalisation
  • Best-practice product design
  • Tactical acquisitions
  • Operational outsourcing to manage peaks
  • Over 100% increase in clients

The Story So Far

The group has continued to deliver strong organic growth and in January 2017, joined forces with Optionis, the largest employee solutions operator in the UK. Optionis provides accounting, payroll, tax and professional employment solutions to the flexible workforce through a multi-brand strategy which includes ClearSky Contractor Accounting, Parasol, ClearSky Business and Brian Alfred.

The combined group is substantially larger than any other competitor in the UK and employs over 600 staff. It covers all channels to market and has a more diversified service offering across a national network of offices. The businesses continue to operate under their respective brands within the Optionis Group structure, receiving the investment and support to further develop their offering.

Sovereign continues to partner the management team to enhance the growth opportunity for the group.

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Bringing these two groups together created a player of exceptional scale and capability in the market, ensuring that contractors and agencies experience an unparalleled level of service. I am extremely proud to lead the group.

Doug Crawford / CEO / Optionis

Optionis Awards

The Sunday Times Top Track 250

Contractor UK 2018 - Best Contractor Account Large

ACCA - Approved Employer - Gold

Top 50 +50 Accountancy Age