Jobs in offing as accountancy firm acquires majority stake in Edinburgh's Purpose HR

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Anderson Anderson & Brown (AAB), the Scottish accountancy and business advisory firm, has acquired a majority stake in Edinburgh-based Purpose HR in a move that will lead to new jobs.

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, follows AAB announcing its growth plans to become a £50 million revenue group by 2025 and its recent merger with Glasgow-based accountancy practice Hardie Caldwell.

Purpose HR provides human resources advice and support to early stage and high growth investor-backed businesses through consultancy and “HR as a service” outsourcing. It was founded in 2014 by Lisa Thomson a former Saltire fellow who worked at chip designer Wolfson Microelectronics post-flotation and prior to its acquisition by US-based Cirrus Logic.

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Thomson is also a former Scotland director for Startup Grind and an ambassador for Women’s Enterprise Scotland

AAB’s acquisition of Purpose HR is announced by Lisa Thomson, CEO, at Purpose HR, and Graeme Allan, chief executive at AAB. Picture: Peter DevlinAAB’s acquisition of Purpose HR is announced by Lisa Thomson, CEO, at Purpose HR, and Graeme Allan, chief executive at AAB. Picture: Peter Devlin
AAB’s acquisition of Purpose HR is announced by Lisa Thomson, CEO, at Purpose HR, and Graeme Allan, chief executive at AAB. Picture: Peter Devlin

Purpose HR was among the first cohort of businesses on the Scottish Enterprise-backed Unlocking Ambition programme. The business will continue to operate under the Purpose HR brand with Thomson running it as chief executive.

Aberdeen-headquartered AAB said the acquisition would add a “new dimension” to the group’s growing Central Belt presence while also providing “exciting growth opportunities” across the UK and internationally.

Purpose HR’s client base is currently focused on the tech and life science sectors, and includes Cyan Forensics, Blackford Analysis, Modulr Finance and Topolytics.

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The combined group will actively target further growth in the tech sector across the UK. In addition, AAB is seeking to broaden Purpose HR’s offering into other key growth sectors such as energy, food and drink and business services.

As a result, Purpose HR is set to grow its headcount with a “significant” recruitment campaign kicking off immediately following the transaction. There are to be no job losses at Purpose HR or AAB as a result of the transaction.

The AAB group now has a combined headcount of more than 340 across its Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Aberdeen offices, ten of those coming from Purpose HR, and a current turnover north of £30m.

Graeme Allan, chief executive at AAB, said: “Purpose HR being part of the AAB group enables us to continue to build our capabilities in the HR space and extend our payroll and HR offering to clients.

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“We are delighted to welcome Purpose HR to the group and our growing team in the Central Belt, and look forward to exploring the ways in which we can enhance our service offering to existing and new clients across the UK and internationally.”

Thomson said: “We have known AAB for a number of years and already have several mutual clients. The deal has come together at a great time for us as we look to accelerate our next stage of growth.

“It has been an exciting journey for the team and I to grow Purpose HR to this stage and having the chance to support so many amazing and innovative clients. Despite the challenges of the last year our client base has been actively growing and companies are increasingly recognising the value of investing in HR support and their people.

“By becoming an AAB group company we will have access to the wider group resources and infrastructure.”

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