Civica has acquired government digital specialist SFW in a move it claims will help it win more, larger deals across the public sector.
SFW - which is based in Woking and has an offshore development centre in Vadodara, India - is a specialist in building and managing digital solutions for the public sector.
Civica claims SFW's Microsoft capabilities and workplace collaboration tools were some of the main reasons it acquired the firm, in a deal which has been in the making for about 12 months.
SFW hailed a "record year" ending 31 March 2016, claiming it was its eighth year in a row of annual sales growth.
When the UK voted to leave the European Union a month ago, concerns were raised in the industry about what impact this would have on the public sector.
Civica's chairman Simon Downing told CRN that the referendum prompt the company to pause for thought.
"Our thesis remains the same and that is that the public sector and government have got the twin challenges of driving operational efficiencies and better engaging with citizens at a lower cost," he told CRN. "Whatever is happening in the wider political world, that is never going to change. It may intensify, but it won't change, and we thought that this would complement that agenda and so, on balance, it was the right thing to do."
SFW will sit in Civica's digital unit, which has grown - organically and through acquisition - to become a £100m business, Downing said, adding that the union will allow Civica to bid for bigger and more complex projects.
"We're flexible and nimble enough to bring new technology and ways of working, but we are big enough to stand behind large programmes."
"We've built the business rapidly in the last three years in response to our customers demanding new ways of working and new technology," he said. "I think now we've probably got the largest digital practice in the UK, of the independents."
Downing said Civica is seeing strong demand for digital transformation among local councils, moreso even than in central government. But he stressed the SFW deal will bring benefits to its customers across the public sector.
In the last six years, the government has taken steps to embrace digital technology and tried to work with a wider variety of suppliers. The government has historically worked with a smaller number of big tech suppliers in massive, long-term deals. But the government has made efforts to work on smaller deals with niche companies.
Downing said Civica has been a beneficiary of these changes, and said the company sits "nicely in the middle".
"We'd see ourselves as being a strong challenger to those traditional suppliers," he said. "But at the other end you've got small, niche providers who have got great capability. But, particularly in central government, you need someone who has got some substance to stand behind large programmes. Our view is we sit really nicely in the middle. We're flexible and nimble enough to bring new technology and ways of working, but we are big enough to stand behind large programmes."
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