Over the years we have seen Capita successfully expand from one market sector to another in the UK and Ireland. Since 1984 when it only served the UK local government sector, it has expanded into seven major verticals and over 15 segments of those. The latest expansion plans take it beyond the UK and Ireland borders into DACH, with Germany being a primary target market.
Capita’s new geographic growth strategy has seen it make three acquisitions in the DACH region (Germany, Switzerland and Austria) in the past year:
- tricontes – the £6.2m acquisition of this Munich-based company in June 2014 brought Capita specialist contact centre services across the retail, telecommunications, utilities and insurance sectors in Germany
- SCHOLAND & BEILING – a customer care consulting company also based in Munich, Germany
- avocis – announced in February 2015 and if successfully completed, at £157m, avocis would be one of the bigger Capita acquisitions. It would bring Capita 6,500 employees and a portfolio of customer contact management services contracts in DACH. Although headquartered in Switzerland, Germany is avocis’ biggest market, accounting for 53 percent of revenue. The rest comes from Switzerland.
Capita has a formulaic approach to acquisitions with a budget of £200m to £250m per annum. It considers many potential acquisitions each year, selecting a dozen or more that fit its formula to:
- Increase scale
- Add new expertise to enhance its propositions
- Take it into new markets.
In addition, the acquisitions have to make a Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) of 15 percent post tax return after 12-months integration into the group.
Capita recently also acquired 700 skilled, multi-lingual FTEs in Krakow and Lodz, thanks to its acquisition of SouthWestern in Ireland. It can tap into these centres to further boost its presence in DACH for outsourcing services, including insurance, finance and legal administration, and customer management.
The Drivers for DACH expansion
The key drivers for Capita’s German gambit include:
- Small growth in the UK market – we estimate that contact centre outsourcing (CCO) to be growing at circa 5 percent. Capita posted decent growth in this business, but given the overall market conditions, Capita must be looking for an alternative growth trajectory outside its comfort zone
- Continental Europe is growing – Everest Group research shows a rise in CCO adoption within Continental Europe. Germany has the largest economy in Europe with an under-penetrated and fragmented market, and only in certain verticals such as utilities, retail and telco. Germany, therefore, presents ample room for sustainable CCO growth for Capita
- The DACH region represents a large CCO market with 110m German speakers. Yet there is only small levels of outsourcing. Capita sees good opportunity for a transformational CCO partner in the region
- Ability to engage existing UK clients – this also provides Capita with opportunities to extend its existing contracts within UK with firms that have European parents and subsidiaries and vice versa
- Access to the in-house contact centre market through SCHOLAND & BEILING’s existing portfolio of enterprise clients, enhancing the breadth of Capita’s footprint in the broader contact centre market.
The three acquisitions add scale to Capita’s existing customer management services in the service-line’s key sectors of retail, telecom and utilities. We expect to see some sharing of resources and skills across country units, driven by multi-country client requirements.
The combination of both customer care outsourcing and consulting services represented by these acquisitions also bodes well for CCO clients, who increasingly look to their service partners for guidance in strategic areas, such as the deployment of multi-channel services, enhanced uses of analytics and stronger vertical industry specificity.
Expansion into German local government is a possibility with avocis that has a number of contracts in the sector. This is Capita’s founding market and Andy Parker, the CEO, has already said that he sees much similarity between the UK and German local government sectors. However, expansion into this sector will be after that of avocis’ bigger private sector market. It is unlikely to target the German local government for the first 12 months after the acquisition.
Capita’s biggest challenge is integration of these companies along with all the other acquisitions that it has made recently. In recent years Capita has spent:
- £271m on 13 acquisitions in 2013
- £310m on 17 acquisitions in 2014
- £199m spent on 4 acquisitions to date in 2015
These have been in a diverse set of companies, ranging from software and data for utilities and transport sectors to residential and commercial mortgage administration. The company is also expanding its services portfolio into new verticals such as agriculture and science services.
Managing this expansive empire while building efficiencies into services and workforce management is not going to be easy.
Yet Capita continues to deliver growth year after year. In previous years, it managed to significantly boost its CCO business with the acquisitions of Ventura and Vertex in the UK. In DACH, it has to deal with challenges of a different culture and languages as well as the usual aspects of integrating businesses, so we will be watching this space with interest.
There is no doubt that Capita is a master at business expansion. Service providers that want to expand into new service lines and geographies would do well to follow Capita’s German gambit.