Bauer, Designworks and Accenture play the acquisition game with a purchase apiece

Rather than developing capabilities from the ground up, acquisitions provide an effective means by which companies can incorporate new skills into their offerings. This has been seen internationally in purchases by the likes of Google and Facebook. But this trend is by no means exclusive to the residents of Silicon Valley.

On this side of the world, Bauer Media, Designworks and Accenture have all recently acquired businesses to consolidate their offerings. 


On Friday afternoon, Bauer announced the acquisition of the Beautyheaven Group, an Australian online beauty business, founded in 1999 by Jackie Maxted in 1999, comprising three digital destinations: Beautydirectory, Beautyheaven and the more recently launched Homeheaven.

Given Bauer Media’s strong resonance with Australian women, David Goodchild, the chief executive of Bauer Media Australia and New Zealand, believes this acquisition will be a good fit for the company.   

“The acquisition of this market-leading online business supports our strategy to be the number one digital destination for Australian women,” said Goodchild in a statement. “With Bauer Media already number one in print (51.6 percent market share*) we see many opportunities to leverage our existing assets, experience and resources to add considerable value and scale to these growing digital businesses … An acquisition such as this demonstrates our focus to invest in strategic opportunities, which will grow the Bauer business across multiple media platforms.” 

The beautyheaven Group’s web, mobile and social media platforms deliver a mix of product information, industry news, reviews, expert tips and advice, shopping directories, advertising and sampling opportunities. 

Tony Kendall, the director of advertising sales at Bauer Media said this move would provide new opportunities for advertising partners.  

“Combining the Group’s already impressive reach and engagement with our new digital ‘To Love’ network creates an online powerhouse for marketing to women.” 


Designworks has also forked out some cash for something new and shiny, purchasing a majority stake in Auckland-based agency Union Digital, which employs more than 20 people. 

Despite the acquisition, Union Digital will remain operating as a stand-alone branded agency within the Designworks Group, and the team will shortly relocate to level 2 of Designworks Auckland campus at 36 Lorne Street.

Designworks chair Sven Baker said the acquisition forms an important part of Designworks’ regional growth strategy and that the company’s digital prowess will prove an effective tool by which to grow the business.   

“This is about Designworks remaining focused on satisfying clients’ increasing demand for next generation insight-led digital experience design and data driven automated marketing,” he said in a statement. “We know our clients are searching for more authentic, relevant and personalised engagement with customers, supported by practical, real-time measurability that will enable them to be far more proactive and adaptive in their brand experience and marketing activities. Union will be central to fulfilling the digital dimension of this market opportunity for us.”

This is by no means unique for Designworks, in that the company has previously reinforced its offering, especially in the digital department, with strategic acquisitions.  

“Our continued focus on customer experience design has seen us invest significantly in a range or new and adjacent offerings over the recent years: spatial, content generation, product and service innovation and interactive experience design are all now key facets of Designworks future. The Union acquisition will enable us to fast track our digitally centric CX, mobile and digital engagement offering across the Asia Pacific region.”

The deal will see Matt Townsend —current Digital Union strategy director—take up the role of Designworks Group’s head of interactive. In the role Townsend will continue to oversee the growth of Union while leading the strategic development of Designworks’ interactive offering across its six offices in New Zealand, Australia and Singapore.

Townsend was optimstic about the move, saying that it would complement both Designworks and Union Digital. 

“From the very first meetings with Sven and his team, it was clear we had alignment in our values and in the belief in the power of design to transform customer experience and business performance. A number of our key clients are also clients of Designworks so the synergies for collaboration and end to end design thinking and execution were obvious. We collaborated successfully with Designworks on a number of joint projects including the launch of the new NZME brand late last year and a number of new business pitches.”


The final story comes from Accenture, which completed its acquisition of Reactive Media, a specialist digital agency based in Australia, which was founded by Tim O’Neill and Tim Fouhy.  

The acquisition, first announced on 2 December last year, is designed to further strengthen Accenture Interactive, part of Accenture Digital, which includes creative design, customer experience, digital production and e-commerce platforms.

According to an Accenture release, it will also give Accenture greater ability to assist chief marketing officer and brand managers in executing customer experiences. 

“With the acquisition of Reactive we’re bolstering our growing portfolio of digital marketing services in Australia, New Zealand and globally,” said Brian Whipple, senior managing director of Accenture Interactive. “We’re better positioned than ever to help marketing leaders provide innovative and engaging customer experiences across all channels as they look to capitalise on digital disruption. We’re looking forward to working with our new colleagues from Reactive on Accenture Interactive’s one global team that offers highly specialised capabilities at scale in the market for digital marketing and design services.”

Acquisitions aren’t new to Accenture. In 2013, Accenture acquired Fjord, a company that specialises in designing digital experiences and services that engage consumers across platforms. Also in 2013, Acquity Group became part of Accenture Interactive, adding significant skills and scale in e-commerce services and leading digital platforms such as hybris and Adobe. In 2012, Accenture bought avVenta, a provider of digital production services to leading brands and agencies across multiple industries.

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