HW Global Talent Partner acquire UK digital recruitment agency Zebra People

Optima have provided corporate finance advice to HW Global Talent Partner as they acquire UK digital recruitment agency Zebra People.

HW Global has taken a controlling interest in the privately-owned London-based firm, launched in 2001 by Nick Cochrane.

Zebra People specialises in hiring digital product teams, with typical roles including user experience (UX) and product design, full stack developers, product managers and delivery/project managers. The firm recruits for roles up to director level – both permanent and contract.

HW Global currently operates on an exclusive and retained basis in the £120K+ search market, also placing interims on daily rates from £700 to £2,000.

The deal is the first in a series of planned acquisitions designed to enable the fast growing global executive search and interim firm to offer its clients an end-to-end talent solution in key functional areas of high growth, transformation and demand.

Other potential acquisition targets include recruitment agencies specialising in finance, HR, technology and professional interim at the tier below executive level, and HW Global would welcome approaches from like-minded recruiters and investors.

The Zebra People acquisition will enable HW Global to offer a comprehensive digital talent service to its clients, with HW appointing senior digital leaders and the Zebra People team building the critical capability that sits underneath.

Both HW Global and Zebra People will continue to trade under their existing brands, with a new holding company HWJ Holdings acting as the acquisition vehicle. The deal creates a £16m turnover business with c. 50 staff in London, Leeds and Manchester. HW Global’s CEO Spencer Jinks and Chairman Paul Spetch will sit on the Zebra People board.

Other benefits of the deal will include efficiencies driven through shared services, mainly around accountancy, legal and audit.

Spencer Jinks said: “HW Global and Zebra People complement each other in so many ways and once we were introduced to Nick and his team there was an instant meeting of minds, with the huge mutual benefit of our combined expertise obvious. Zebra People has a fantastic reputation for building diverse high calibre digital and UX teams, whilst sharing a desire to provide exceptional service to both clients and candidates alike. The partnership provides a fantastic platform to share expertise, whilst accelerating careers and skill set and attracting new talent to underpin our ambitious growth plans.”

Zebra People’s clients include Monzo, The Guardian, Which?, Eurostar, Just Eat, Aviva, Barclays, Lloyds and Global Radio alongside government agencies such as the Ministry of Justice, the Department of Work & Pensions and the Department for Education – as well as start-ups.

Director Nick Cochrane said: “Joining forces with HW Global will open up a wide range of opportunities for us both in the UK and internationally, while offering our clients the executive search service we had previously been unable to provide. The two businesses are undoubtedly an excellent cultural fit with a lot in common in terms of ways of working, ambition, innovation and how we value and invest in long term relationships with our clients and candidates. We are looking forward to an exciting future.”

Philip Ellis, of Optima Corporate Finance, provided corporate finance advice to HW Global, and Jonathan Asquez of Gordons LLP’s Leeds office provided legal advice. Financial due diligence was carried out by Simon Kite and tax advice by Mike Hodges, both of Saffery Champness, Manchester. Andy Francey, of Freeths, Leeds, provided legal advice to Zebra People.