Intouch Insight finalizes multimillion-dollar deal to acquire U.S. mystery shopping firm

Mystery shopping stock image

After pulling the trigger on a pandemic-delayed acquisition that’s been 18 months in the making, Intouch Insight CEO Cameron Watt is confident the deal will be worth the wait.

“I think that being able to get this sale done after a year and a half of working on it, it’s just a good sign of where we’re going,” Watt said Monday after his company announced it had signed an agreement to buy Georgia-based SeeLevel HX. “I think things are moving the right way.”

Intouch, which makes a platform that helps retailers track customer satisfaction and crunch data on issues such as employee health and safety, will pay up to $2.73 million in cash plus 1.5 million shares for the U.S. provider of mystery shopping and audit services, putting the total value of deal in the neighbourhood of $3.7 million. 

The deal is expected to close on Friday pending approval of the TSX Venture Exchange. But it’s the culmination of a process that originally began early in 2020 when SeeLevel’s executive team first put the company on the market.

Watt says the two firms have gotten to know each other quite well since then, and he’s now more certain than ever he’s made the right move.

"They’ve got some great brands that they do business with."

“They’ve got some great brands that they do business with,” he said of SeeLevel, whose customers include Sunglass Hut and health-care consortium Kaiser Permanente. “For us, it’s just a really great fit to bring the organizations together.”

Intouch, whose clients include A&W, Joey and Sobeys, saw its revenues fall from $19.3 million in fiscal 2019 to $12.3 million last year as the COVID-19 crisis wreaked havoc with the global economy.

But Watt says the company is now back on track to beat its 2019 performance. 

Its revenues for the quarter ending June 30 were up 135 per cent year-over-year, and the CEO says bringing SeeLevel – which did $5 million in sales in fiscal 2019 – into the fold will shore up the Ottawa firm’s presence in verticals such as automotive, tech and financial services where the U.S. company has a stronger foothold.

In addition, SeeLevel doesn’t make its own software, meaning Intouch now has a whole new market for its products. 

'Entrepreneurial attitude'

Just as important to Watt, SeeLevel founder and CEO Lisa van Kesteren is joining Intouch in the role of chief experience officer. Praising his new colleague for her “entrepreneurial attitude,” Watt says van Kesteren’s attention will no longer be divided among the myriad of HR, finance and other tasks the chief executive of a small team often must attend to. 

He said, van Kesteren can now focus on “what she was doing when she built her own company, which is talk to customers and get new customers … and do those things that really help enable and catapult growth in an organization. 

“She brings a ton – what we’re going to do is unleash it.”