Butcher & Barlow advise Brand Vista on sale of business

Definition Group, the multi-award-winning strategic communications group, today announces its acquisitions of brand strategy and experience consultancy Brand Vista and Schwa, a leading specialist in tone of voice. The two deals mark the completion of five acquisitions in eighteen months for Definition Group, bringing the group’s revenue to £10m and adding a Manchester office to its bases in Leeds and London.

The deals follow Definition Group’s recent purchases of leading employee engagement agency Words&Pictures, creative brand agency Redhouse and PR growth agency TopLine Comms, including TopLine Film.

Brand Vista – rated by the Financial Times as one of the UK’s leading management consultancies in 2022 – was founded in 2000 and specialises in brand strategy and the alignment of customer and colleague experiences. The company’s portfolio of clients in the international leisure and hospitality, retail, built environment, charity and B2B sectors includes David Lloyd, Merlin Entertainments Group, Greene King, Places for People, Iceland, Fiat Agricultural and Yorkshire Cancer Trust.

Founded in 2017, Schwa is a team of writers, trainers and psychologists who use tone of voice and behavioural science to help organisations engage better with customers and colleagues. The company uses language to improve business performance, with clients spanning large corporates and global groups including BT, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Network Rail, PepsiCo and Sony Music.

The enhanced service lines, now delivered by a 90-strong team of specialists, expand Definition Group’s insideout communications™ delivery model for major brands, business leaders, member organisations and government bodies. They boost the group’s ability to deliver a broad range of services across the brand strategy, experience and communications spectrum, enabling organisations to enhance their reputations and deliver business growth.

Andrew Stothert, CEO of Brand Vista and Neil Taylor, Co-founder of Schwa, will join the Definition Group board as executive directors. Jim Horsley, Schwa Co-founder, will join as a non-executive director.

Nigel Howes, Chairman of Definition Group said:

“These two acquisitions represent a significant step-change in our ambitious growth strategy, broadening our sector expertise, expanding our geographic spread and enhancing our service offering. With this enlarged capability, we can now offer clients a broader range of services, delivered by award-winning experts, using a truly integrated approach.”

Neil Taylor, Managing Director of Schwa said:

“In four years, we’ve only scratched the surface of our market. There are many global companies that have yet to discover that language and behavioural science are secret weapons that can help make them more human, win them more customers, and make a measurable difference to their businesses. By working with our new friends in the Definition Group, we can grow faster together than we could alone, and it means fresh opportunities for our team and clients too.”

Andrew Stothert, CEO of Brand Vista said:

Apart from the similarity of our ambition, culture and values, Brand Vista and Definition have a shared view of the importance, for brands, of consistent communication and experience, both internally and externally. We are excited by the potential that lies ahead.”

Funding for the acquisitions, as part of its ongoing support for Definition Group’s growth strategy, was provided by ThinCats (Ben Kimball) with due diligence conducted by Nick Johnson and Andrew Cameron at Ryecroft Glenton. Corporate finance and debt advisory services were provided to Definition by Andy Miller at Sentio Partners. Corporate finance services were provided to Schwa by Michael Glynn of St James Consulting. Legal advice on the transaction was provided to Definition by Dahren Naidoo at Freeths, to Brand Vista by Jonathan Aldersley at Butcher & Barlow, to Schwa by Tessa Laws and Phil Pugh at Acuity Law and to ThinCats by Andrew Curtis at Clarion.

Brand Vista: (L-R): Emma Titchener; Gary Moss; Andrew Stothert; Heather Baker; Nigel Howes.