A lot happened in 2015, a year of significant achievement for PA. We completed a comprehensive strategic review of our firm, entered into a new partnership with the Carlyle Group and delivered solid growth in our business performance.
Delighting our clients and our people
In 2015 we undertook a wholesale review in order to ensure that our strategy continues to meet, and exceed, the growing expectations of our clients and our people. As a result, we transformed our go-to-market model, bringing together our industry experience and worldclass service expertise in a new and more effective way so that we bring the best of PA to our clients. As part of this, we have consolidated and developed the ‘gold standard’ services that we will take to our clients around the world. We also launched a global brand campaign to build greater awareness of PA and to demonstrate how and why we make a difference to our clients and to society more broadly. This was supported by the release of our flagship research report, Innovation as Unusual, which attracted high-profile media coverage across our focus regions and which has created many opportunities to meet with current and future clients. Finally – and perhaps most importantly – we have embarked upon a significant programme of investment in our people to ensure we attract and retain the best talent in the consulting industry. This is underpinned by the newly launched PA Academy – a world-class learning and development capability that will help our people to develop the consulting, management and leadership skills to be at the forefront of our industry.
Building a platform for the future with the Carlyle Group
In 2015 we entered into partnership with the Carlyle Group. Following an overwhelmingly positive vote by PA shareholders, we agreed an investment by the Carlyle Group in a 51 per cent equity interest in PA. The partnership will accelerate the delivery of our strategy and growth plans, bring us access to a wider network of sales opportunities and provide us with the support of an organisation and brand that is globally recognised and respected. Critically, the partnership allows us to retain our culture and independence while enabling current and future PA people to own a share of the firm and, through this, to benefit directly from the value they create for our clients and PA. We believe there is a strong cultural affinity between the two firms, given our common interest in seeing PA succeed, and I am much looking forward to working with our new partners.
As a consequence of our new arrangements, there have been a number of changes on the Board. Five longstanding directors stepped down: Esther Dyson, Michael Queen, Richard Wilson, Tom McEwan and Tom Mullen, and our sincere thanks go to them for the valuable contributions they have made to PA’s success over the years. Following the confirmation of the investment, we were pleased to appoint the following PA colleagues as new directors: Nick Chaffey, Matthew Gordon, Emma Hardaker-Jones, Kully Janjuah and Hamish Maule. Alan Middleton and I look forward to working with the new directors as we set the course for future success.
Delivering solid business performance
In addition to laying the foundations for future growth, in 2015 we recorded a solid business performance. In support of our growth plans, and reinforced by the new partnership with the Carlyle Group, we grew our overall operating capacity by 10 per cent. As a result, we achieved an operating profit of £30.9 million, a decrease compared with 2014 as PA absorbed the early cost of the greater number of new hires. However, we saw a 2 per cent growth in Group turnover to £431.7 million. We are confident that we will see our investment bear fruit in the coming months and enter 2016 in an extremely favourable position and with fewer distractions.
Designing and implementing the many changes that have taken place this year has been exciting but complex, and I would like to thank the many PA people who have worked so hard to make it possible. I am delighted with the way in which our people have embraced the changes, and am looking forward to the positive impacts that will be felt by our clients and people alike in 2016 and beyond.