Accenture To Buy 260-Person Consultancy To Help Retailers Navigate Digital Disruption

Accenture has agreed to purchase a 260-person global strategy consulting firm focused on helping top retailers and private equity firms deal with digital disruption.

The Dublin, Ireland-based company, No. 2 on the 2016 CRN Solution Provider 500, said New York-based Kurt Salmon will help address continued strong demand for strategy consulting services among retailers as digital technologies disrupt their entire business and operating model. The vertical is also grappling with rapidly rising consumer expectations, industry convergence and low barriers to entry, Accenture said.

"It's more than just putting up a website or putting up a mobile app," Chris Donnelly, retail industry lead for Accenture's strategy practice, told CRN. "It permeates all parts of the company, and all parts of the company need to transform."

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Bringing Kurt Salmon on board will help Accenture address significant unmet need around retail operations, merchandising and private equity supply chain, Donnelly said. The rise of e-commerce and digital technologies has caused retailers to rethink how they can most effectively get products to consumers and where and how they should be storing products, according to Donnelly.

Accenture will also benefit from Kurt Salmon's strong history of thought leadership, assets and retail analytical skills, Donnelly said.

Kurt Salmon was founded in 1935, and is known for operational strategy consulting around logistics and supply chain, merchandising and product development, corporate strategy and due diligence, and omni-channel retail strategy, according to Accenture. Taken together, these tools can help shape the transformation of the retail sector, according to Accenture.

However, Kurt Salmon has increasingly seen clients need more and more digital and technology services beyond the scope of what they can typically provide, Donnelly said. For instance, Donnelly said Accenture has 800 associates globally focused on customer experience design for digital experiences, which has become an increasingly important part of retailers transforming their businesses.

Both Accenture and Kurt Salmon work primarily with large retailers, with both companies currently serving many of the same clients.

Terms of the deal, which was announced Thursday, were not disclosed. Kurt Salmon employees are expected to join the Accenture Strategy retail industry practice once the deal closes later this year.

As the business and technology worlds converge, Accenture said it has found that clients are increasingly seeking industry-specific strategies. Kurt Salmon said it can give clients a competitive advantage by delivering client-centric value across the globe.

Although Accenture has taken a balanced approach to providing clients with both horizontal and vertical support, Donnelly strongly believes that vertical knowledge is vital in the strategy and consulting space.

For instance, Donnelly said retailers want to talk with a consultant that not only has a deep understanding of merchandise planning, but also one that understands how exactly merchandising planning is different in the grocery and clothing apparel spaces.

"Our customers are demanding deep industry experience," he said.

Accenture has made 11 acquisitions in 2016, with a heavy focus on security, vertical practices and growing capabilities around Salesforce. The solution provider said it expects to grow annual sales from its security practice to well more than $1 billion by addressing industry-specific security vulnerabilities.