SYDNEY: Global consulting business Accenture has acquired one of Australia's top creative agencies, The Monkeys, in what has been widely viewed as a statement of intent as the battle between ad agencies and consultancies in Australia heats up.

According to Mumbrella, The Monkeys – an independent agency which holds some of Australia's biggest clients, including Telstra, Qantas and Meat and Livestock Australia and has been the country's Agency Of The Year for two years running – was acquired by Accenture alongside design business Maud.

While financial details of the acquisition were not revealed, senior agency leadership is reportedly set to stay on. According to documents filed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, and published by the Australian Financial Review, The Monkeys booked revenue of A$21.6m in the year to June 30, 2016, up 20% from the previous year. After-tax profits jumped to A$2.5m in 2015-16, a 28% increase from A$1.9m in 2014-15.

The surprise acquisition has been viewed as a potential game-changer by Accenture as it seeks to boost customer experience capability in Australia, and follows high profile agency acquisitions in other markets in recent months.

It's certainly a big opportunity: research conducted by Salmat in 2015 found only one in five Australian companies has a CX strategy, with 22% of respondents citing a well-structured plan while 31% have a plan which no one follows. 13% don't have a strategy at all.

In a February exclusive for Warc which explored the battle between consultancies and agencies in the Australian market, senior agency figures noted at the time that CX was a core part of branding and thus agencies were well placed to compete against big consultancies.

Brian Whipple, head of Accenture Interactive, said in a statement to Mumbrella that the acquisition will enable the company to "integrate creative excellence with digital customer experience delivery".

"Together, we're bringing our unique model to the market: part creative agency, part business consultancy, and part technology powerhouse – all focused on creating the best customer experiences on the planet," Whipple said.

Data sourced from Mumbrella, Australian Financial Review; additional content by WARC staff