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The difference is made, not spoken

Highlights from our 2014 annual review

At PA, we define success as achieving exceptional results that have a lasting impact on businesses, communities and individuals worldwide. This principle has remained the cornerstone of our ethos since 1943 – and it continues to underpin everything we do.

Our clients choose us because we challenge convention to find the solutions that really work. We don’t just believe in making a difference – we believe in making the difference.

See how we are making the difference [uPDQQJulg_4]

“An exceptional year”

Non-Executive Chairman’s and CEO’s statements

“One of the highlights of my first year as Chairman has been meeting and working with more and more of PA’s people.”

“Our performance in 2014 was impressive. We delivered outstanding work that made a real difference for our clients worldwide.”

Marcus Aguis

“One of the highlights of my first year as Chairman has been meeting and working with more and more of PA’s people.”

Marcus Aguis
Non-Executive Chairman

2014 was an exceptional year for PA and we should all feel proud and delighted with the strong financial performance, which reflects our unwavering focus on ‘making the difference’ for our clients worldwide. Our Group turnover for 2014 was £423 million and our operating profit was £53.3 million (up 26%). At the end of 2014, our share price was 891 pence, representing an increase of 22% on 2013.

Raising our brand profile

Last year I made a commitment to increase visibility of PA across our key markets. We have made good progress towards this in 2014: welcoming a number of new clients, including Sainsbury’s Bank and the Charity Commission, and extending our reach in Schroders and NHS England. I look forward to working closely with Alan, Andrew and the rest of the leadership team as we develop these relationships in 2015 and beyond.

Our participation in a number of important industry events has also done much to raise PA’s profile. This includes our sponsorship of Denmark’s renowned Innovation Summit; the PA ReliabilityOne awards that recognise excellence in US utility businesses; and our flagship innovation event in London, which unites leaders from across industry to discuss and debate barriers to innovation. New initiatives are planned throughout 2015, and we are working with a number of external partners to strengthen our reputation further and develop a powerful corporate identity.

Entering new markets

The year 2014 also marked our entry into Latin American markets, with the opening of PA’s first Mexico office. This region presents a number of exciting opportunities for PA – notably in the banking, aviation and energy sectors – and our team in Mexico bring a deep understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities faced by local clients. I have every confidence that they will play a valuable role in growing PA’s business in the future.

Setting strategic priorities

PA’s impressive growth over the past 70 years owes much to our readiness to adapt and our ability to remain ahead of our time. Today it is increasingly clear that the demand for traditional consultancy is changing, and in the second half of 2014 we identified several corporate priorities that will help the firm to thrive. In particular, these include the need for greater global collaboration to take our best in class service capability to our clients and the ongoing development of our people to ensure we continue to strengthen our deep sector expertise.

To achieve these priorities, we will introduce a number of changes to PA’s operating model in 2015. These include forming strong global centres of sector and service expertise, which will collaborate closely to deliver exceptional results for our clients. These centres will be underpinned by a more rigorous approach to talent recruitment and development.

2015 and beyond

One of the highlights of my first year as chairman has been meeting and working with more and more of PA’s people. I cannot tell you how proud it makes me feel to hear from our customers just how much they value the work we do for them. We made good progress last year. We must now build on these results in 2015 and harness the opportunities presented by a more optimistic economic environment. On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank our people for all their continued dedication, hard work and professionalism.

Alan Middleton

“Our performance in 2014 was impressive. We delivered outstanding work that made a real difference for our clients worldwide”

Alan Middleton
Chief Executive Officer

In 2014 PA made the difference for our clients in 3,800 assignments – often in the most difficult and complex circumstances. Our willingness to think differently, develop bold new ideas and work in commercially innovative ways led to strong growth in our UK private sector businesses and a robust performance across all our other markets. As a result, we grew our consultant teams, delivered £360 million of consulting revenue (a year-on-year growth of 7%) and significantly improved our profitability and shareholder return.

Growing our core business and expanding our global reach

At the start of the year we set challenging growth objectives for each part of the firm – all of which have been achieved or exceeded. We have developed new offerings and services for our clients in areas such as wearable technology, business design, digital trust and ‘beyond the pill’ healthcare. Performance in all our geographies has improved, we have strengthened our teams and we have opened our first operation in Mexico.

In 2014 we also welcomed our new Board and chairman Marcus Agius. Together, the team has made a significant contribution to PA, in particular around raising our profile and creating valuable new connections for our firm.

Making the difference for communities worldwide

One of the qualities that makes our firm great is our people’s ongoing commitment to improving the communities within which we operate. This is evidenced in our extensive pro bono work and support of young people around the world. In the UK we have increased our support to Teach First, an outstanding charity that works to eradicate educational inequality; in the US we are helping Change for Kids to give children of all backgrounds access to high-quality education; and in Denmark we are providing assistance to CARE, who improve the lives and skills of people in rural communities in Africa and Asia.

Shaping the future of our firm

We enter 2015 with clear strategic goals, a strong book of business and many excellent opportunities. Over the next 12 months we will adjust the sector, service and regional structure of our firm to focus on those areas where we make a real difference for our clients. This approach will allow us to bring the best of the whole firm to bear in each region, offering our clients the perfect blend of brilliant sector insight, differentiated services and the capability to drive long-term growth. Two important initiatives will underpin this strategy. Firstly, we will launch the PA Academy – a global hub where our people can benefit from world-class learning and development. Secondly, we will also continue to put significant effort into raising the profile of PA’s brand.

Of course, PA’s strong performance is made possible only by the continued dedication and commitment of our brilliant people. I thank everyone in the firm for making 2014 such a great success.

Figures 2014

Our insights and research

We are committed to providing our clients with the insight they need to overcome their biggest challenges and set the foundation for long-term growth. This is why we undertake extensive research across global sectors and industries – collating the viewpoints and data required to bring clarity on the issues that matter most.

You can view examples of our recent research and insights below.

Our recent client stories

Unconstrained by conventional thinking, we work shoulder to shoulder with our clients to deliver exceptional results for their organisation. And our work goes beyond getting the job done – we share our knowledge to create a lasting impact and a brighter future.

Read just a few examples of our recent client work below.



Keeping pace with growth at one of the busiest airports in the world

Dubai Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world, handling over 200,000 passengers a day. A key cog in the airport’s effective operation is dnata, which provides ground-handling, cargo and travel services for the 1,100 flights landing and taking off every day.

dnata had been meeting growing demand for its services by adding more capability within its existing set-up, but with further growth at Dubai Airport forecast for the next six years at least, dnata needed to find a way to deliver an increased volume of services more efficiently.

Following a careful assessment of dnata’s operations, we proposed making changes to job tasks, skills and management systems to enable dnata to significantly increase the throughput for its ground operations but at a relatively small additional cost. We then set about designing a new structure and set of roles for the business to make these proposals a reality. The new structure assigns clear accountability for service delivery to individual roles, reduces the level of supervision required dramatically and moves supporting roles to central support functions so that core operations are focused ruthlessly on service delivery.

Our work has given dnata a structure that it can scale up cost-efficiently, in the right proportions, to keep pace with growth and keep costs down. In fact, our projections show that as volume increases, costs per flight will fall. More immediately, implementing the solution will save dnata some US$20 million in running costs.

Supporting the smooth running of 1,100 flights each day

Read more about our business design work >



Developing a new inhaler to improve the treatment of cystic fibrosis and tuberculosis

While medical advances in the last 30 years mean that more than half of all people with cystic fibrosis (CF) can now expect to live beyond the age of 41, a cure remains elusive. Furthermore, people with CF usually need to take a large quantity of different drugs daily if they are to maintain lung health and avoid potentially fatal infections.

One of the step changes in CF treatment has been the introduction of inhaled mannitol (Bronchitol), which improves lung function. Delivered via a dry-powder inhaler, patients need to inhale 10 separate 400mg capsules twice a day to achieve the therapeutic dose. While the benefits are great, this regime increases the already very lengthy amount of time that CF sufferers have to dedicate to taking their daily medication.

To make life easier for patients, Pharmaxis, the company that developed mannitol, commissioned PA to design and develop an inhaler that could deliver a full 400mg dose of mannitol with fewer inhalations and user actions.

Our team of experts created an inhaler that has been independently demonstrated to deliver mannitol and other drugs more efficiently than existing inhalers. The final design, Orbital, can deliver the full 400mg dose of mannitol in just five to six inhalations without the need for the patient to load or reload a single capsule. Pharmaxis and PA are now pursuing partnerships to develop the Orbital inhaler for CF and a wider range of lung conditions, including tuberculosis.

Delivering a step change in the treatment of cystic fibrosis

Read more about our product development work >

UK Highways Agency

UK Highway Agency

Driving £1.3 billion in economic benefits from improved traffic flow on the UK’s busiest river crossing

Traffic congestion costs the UK economy billions of pounds every year, pushing up journey times, increasing the amount of fuel used and adding to the cost of goods and services. So reducing congestion is a priority for the Highways Agency.

The agency wanted to improve traffic flow at the Dartford-Thurrock River Crossing where drivers (in excess of 130,000 on average every day) were queuing for up to 30 minutes at peak time. The wait at the toll booths and barriers was contributing significantly to the delays.

To cut congestion, PA delivered a major project to automate the crossing. This included removing the payment booths and reconfiguring the road layout, as well as putting in place an advance payment and automatic number plate recognition system so drivers can pay the charge online or by phone. We led the tender process to source the management of the charging and enforcement system and then managed the provider to ensure the system operated effectively. We also supported the agency in delivering a multichannel communications campaign so they could be confident that crossing users knew about the changes and understood how to pay the charge remotely.

Our work has reduced journey times by up to 18 minutes and cleared congestion at peak times while ensuring the Department for Transport continues to receive around £100 million in revenue from crossing charges each year. In total, the upgraded crossing is expected to deliver £1.3 billion in benefits to the UK economy over the next 30 years.

Cutting journey times and delivering economic benefits

Read more about our transport and logistics work >

Monica Healthcare

Monica Healthcare

Saving the lives of thousands of babies each year

Monica Healthcare specialises in creating innovative wearable devices that monitor the health of unborn babies at home and in the hospital.

Its patented technology is based on the acquisition of electrophysiological signals, detected by cordless electrodes positioned on the maternal abdomen. From these signals, caregivers can remotely monitor a number of critical parameters, including fetal position, fetal heart rate, maternal heart rate and uterine activity. As well as improving pregnancy outcomes, Monica’s at-home technology can help expectant mothers avoid a lengthy hospital stay – reducing healthcare costs by millions of dollars.

Our technology experts are working with Monica to develop the next phase of the company’s pioneering technology, which is expected to save the lives of thousands of babies each year.

Read more about our work in life sciences and healthcare >

BDR Thermia

BDR Thermia - The difference is life-changing

Developing an intelligent heating system to drive millions of euros in revenue and improve energy efficiency across Europe

BDR Thermea is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of high-efficiency boilers, with annual revenues in the region of €1.7 billion. Faced with increasing competition from new technologies, the company announced plans to develop an intelligent heating system that would make it easier for customers across Europe to manage their energy consumption. Based on our world-class engineering, product design and manufacturing capability, BDR Thermea asked PA to develop the new system from concept through to completion.

Our market research revealed that consumers often feel nervous about interacting with their boiler to manage the temperature of their home and, instead, want a thermostat that is attractive and easy to use. At the same time, installers want the lowest-risk installation process. Based on these findings, we designed two separate products – a consumer-friendly thermostat for homeowners to interact with and an installer interface for the boiler, focused on making the installation process as reliable as possible. In just nine months PA’s in-house design agency developed both products to provide a fantastic user experience as well as meeting demanding cost targets. Importantly, the thermostats can be placed in multiple rooms to ensure the house is heated evenly – reducing unnecessary energy consumption and making life more comfortable for residents. Customers can also control the thermostats remotely via a smartphone app. Following incredibly positive feedback in trials, BDR Thermea is now rolling the new system out across Europe. As well as helping customers to save energy and reduce their bills, it is expected to drive millions of euros in revenue.

Improving energy efficiency and making life easier for customers

Read more about our product design and development work >

John Lewis

John Lewis

Enabling a leading UK retailer to break its all-time sales record

In the week of Black Friday 2014 John Lewis reported record weekly sales of £179.1 million, with its website successfully handling hundreds of thousands of orders.

Since 2013 PA has been working continuously with John Lewis and a number of partners to optimise the John Lewis website and prepare for trading peaks such as Black Friday. This includes planning IT operations, reviewing John Lewis’s highly successful ‘click and collect’ service and managing the introduction of new IT services. As a result of this detailed preparation, John Lewis now has the e-commerce platform it needs to operate with distinction at the very forefront of the UK’s fast-evolving retail scene.

Boosting sales through world-class IT services

“PA's support has been invaluable to us through the launch of our new website and development of new functions. They have worked tirelessly alongside John Lewis Partners to achieve our £1 billion online target ahead of schedule and online sales that are around 30% of total John Lewis revenues."

Paul Coby
IT Director, John Lewis

Read more about our IT transformation work >


WePROTECT – helping to make children safer online [j-guz4T8Xbo]

Working with the UK government to protect children from online sexual exploitation

In May 2014 PA helped to plan and deliver WePROTECT 2014, a summit facilitated by the government to develop new solutions to combat online child sexual exploitation. Bringing together domain experts from 48 of the world's leading internet, media and technology companies, this workshop successfully laid the foundations for a new model of collaboration across industry, harnessing a diverse range of technical skills, knowledge and experience to develop technical solutions to help combat these crimes.

Following the success of the WePROTECT summit, the UK prime minister announced that the first of the solutions identified at this event is to be implemented. The Child Abuse Image Database (Caid) was launched by the prime minister on 11 December 2014 and will be used to investigate child abuse allegations across the world.

Read more about our cyber security work >

Thomson Reuters

Thomson Reuters: Launching the market’s first KYC managed service

Launching the market's first managed service for 'Know Your Customer'

In 2013 Thomson Reuters announced plans to launch a new managed service – Thomson Reuters Org ID – that would free banks from the resource-intensive task of complying with the anti-money laundering regulation Know Your Customer (KYC). Failure to comply with this regulation has cost financial services firms an eye-watering total of US$7.2 billion in the last three years.

As the delivery partner for the new service, PA provided extensive project management expertise, assisting the development of the complex IT model and supporting workshops to develop a global KYC policy with potential customers.

Our work has played a critical role in launching Thomson Reuters Org ID as the industry’s first KYC managed service provider, expected to support over 650,000 organisations within five years.

Helping businesses to comply with global anti-money laundering policy

“The talent they presented us with really demonstrated that they have good depth on the bench. They are a very experienced, very professional, supportive firm.”

Anna Mazzone 
Thomson Reuters

Read more about our work in financial services >

Our work with non-profit organisations

We are proud to support a number of non-profit organisations worldwide. The ongoing focus of our work with these organisations is ‘developing the leaders of the future’ – giving young people the skills, confidence and opportunities they need to fulfil their ambitions and create a brighter tomorrow.

Our work with non-profit organisations

Download a copy of our annual review 2014:

Annual Review 2014 Cover

Download a copy of our annual report 2014:

Annual Report 2014 Cover

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