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Madison Buys absoluteIT… plus Live-Blogging From #RhubNZ

By October 20, 2016No Comments

Quick one from me today as I’m posting this live from #rhubnz as the energetic Jim Stroud prowls in his socks through his keynote speech about how recruitment might look ten years from now.

Give us a wave Jim…

rhubnz 2016


There’s only really one major topic of conversation in our own #nzrec community this week though. Earlier this week it was announced that AWF Madison Group had acquired absoluteIT in a $15.3m deal.

This is another in a spate of recent M&A activity in the NZ recruitment agency space and hints at the strength and bullishness that exists here currently.

Japanese giant Temp Holdings expanded their partnership with Kelly Services by taking on a larger stake in the NZ operations of Kelly’s recently.  There has also been a coming together of Salt’s between the local version and another of the same name from the other hemisphere. Manpower also recently completed the full takeover of Global Attract and fully melded it into the Experis brand.

This one feels more significant though. The acquisition of AbsoluteIT represents the second such buyout of what most would call a “tier one” IT recruitment brand (locally). Earlier in 2016 Aussie firm Finite bought 920 but that was still one large IT specialist buying another.

This deal is different. Madison are more of a generalist multi-disciplinary specialist who have made several attempts over the years to organically grow their presence in the IT market without ever quite invading the market share of the likes of the tier one specialists. What was Madison IT became PursuIT in an attempt to distinguish the brands but it still never caught on beyond a few high performing individual consultants. They reverted back to the Madison brand which has continued on since the AWF buyout in 2013.

This deal makes plenty of sense for both sides. Both are well-run, established recruitment brands with an entrenched local history, largely positive reputations, and strong management structures. Being part of the broader group will give absoluteIT’s specialised IT recruiters access to a larger client base and greater marketing power, whilst this move clearly represents for Madison the solution to finally properly cracking the IT recruitment sector.

I imagine this will be a smoother marriage than most in recruitment industry terms and I wish all involved success in this new partnership.

Now then…back to #rhubnz.

Enjoy the long weekend New Zealand.


Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.