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Human resources deal

AAB expands with Purpose HR acquisition

Lisa Thomson and Graeme Allan

New partners: Lisa Thomson and Graeme Allan

Purpose HR, the Edinburgh-based human resources support company for early stage firms, has been acquired by the audit and accounting practice Anderson Anderson & Brown.

Former Saltire Fellow Lisa Thomson set up Purpose HR in 2014 to provide tailored consultancy and ‘HR as a service’ outsourcing.

AAB said the company was a strategic fit with AAB group, complementing its operations in payroll and virtual finance. 

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, follows AAB’s recent acquisition of Glasgow-based accountants Hardie Caldwell. 

The acquisition will also accelerate Purpose HR’s growth aspirations, with the business continuing to operate under the Purpose HR brand and Ms Thomson running the business as CEO and shareholder. 


Her career included a spell working at Edinburgh-based Wolfson Microelectronics following its IPO. She is also a former Scotland director for Startup Grind and an ambassador for Women’s Enterprise Scotland. The company was among the first cohort of businesses on the Scottish Enterprise-backed ‘Unlocking Ambition’ programme. 

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.

Purpose HR is now looking to grow its headcount with a significant recruitment campaign kicking off immediately following the transaction.

AAB group now has a combined headcount of over 340 staff across its Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Aberdeen offices – 10 of those at Purpose HR – and a turnover of more than £30 million. 

Ms 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, enabling us to increase the range of services we can offer to clients and to expand our team – we will be hiring across Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow and London.”

Graeme Allan, chief executive at AAB, commented: “We are delighted to welcome Purpose HR to the group and our growing team in the Central Belt.”

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