Blackswan to extend its global ambitions

A NEWCASTLE-based management consultancy is launching two new divisions and growing its considerable business overseas as the economic turmoil in the UK pushes bosses here to tighten their purse strings.

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Blackswan chief executive officer Maurice Duffy is about to broaden the range of services of a firm whose speciality in ‘change management’ has seen it develop a global reputation.

“A lot of companies need change management, but they are choosing to bring that work in-house because they want to save money, which is possibly not the best decision for them,” he said.

“Our business is very strong at the moment and the changes in economies around the world mean that we are seeing less work in the UK and more in other countries. But the need for change management is growing all the time.”

Duffy added: “We have closed down a couple of small associated businesses in order to concentrate on our core business and maximise our revenue streams.

“We still see some further market difficulties where, even in emerging markets, the euro effect is impacting clients’ long-term strategies. However, there have been no redundancies as a result of this.”

Although Blackswan’s UK headquarters are in Grey Street in the city centre, it also has bases in London and Ireland, India, South Africa and the US. Now only around 10% of the company’s business is in the North East with 20% elsewhere in the UK and 70% overseas.

It employs more than 300 staff, with much of the consultancy done part-time by experts including executives of FTSE-100 companies. More jobs are being created overseas, such as the 30 people recruited to work in its research centre in Delhi.

Its customer base includes blue chips Rio Tinto, GlaxoSmithKline and Tata.

“We have a good global brand and while we have had to slim some of the business in some places, especially overseas, the work is growing strongly,” said Duffy.

“We have been investing in technology and that makes it easier and more efficient for us to deal with clients in remote countries, such as Mongolia.”

Blackswan already works with 23 countries and is seeing some of its biggest growth in Asia, the Pacific area and India as their economies are seeing businesses adapt to working at a higher level.

“I think that we have identified a big need in India for companies who want to learn how to become more successful in more developed markets as they get a lot bigger,” said Duffy. “There is some very important work going on out there and it is one of our biggest markets.”

And it is about to increase its work in the UK and abroad with the launch of two new businesses. Blackswan Legal will offer advice to law firms on how to adapt in a changing market while the other business which will advise companies on the issues surrounding the intellectual property of their work.

It is also working for the NHS where Blackswan is helping its first large public sector client adapt to the changes likely to follow Government spending reviews.