Hong Kong supply chain auditor Elevate acquires CSR Asia

One of the region's sustainability consultancies has been acquired by supply chain auditor Elevate, whose CEO says the deal points to a "robust and growing sustainability market" in Asia.

CSR Asia's sustainability report for Marina Bay Sands. Image: Marina Bay Sands
CSR Asia has compiled sustainability reports for companies including Singapore casino complex Marina Bay Sands. Image: Marina Bay Sands

CSR Asia, one of the region’s best known sustainability consultancies, has been acquired by Hong Kong-based supply chain auditing firm Elevate for an undisclosed sum.

CSR Asia has been providing sustainability advice for businesses in the region since 2004.

The company, which has 25 staff and offices in Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, the United Kingdom and Hong Kong, where it is headquartered, will add sustainability reporting and research to Elevate’s auditing and supply chain capabilities.

CSR Asia joins a relatively low profile parent company in Elevate, which was born out of the 2013 merger of monitoring company Level Works and Infact Global Partners, a China-based factory capacity building advisory firm.

Elevate has 370 staff in offices in the United States, United Kingdom, China, India, Germany, Bangladesh, Mexico, Turkey, and Vietnam. Guided by the mantra “Business driven sustainability,” the company has conducted audits for more than 10,000 factories all over the world.

Ian Spaulding, chief executive officer, Elevate, said the deal would offer “full value chain sustainability services” for businesses.

Our acquisition of CSR Asia points to a robust and growing sustainability market in Asia

Ian Spauling, chief executive, Elevate

CSR Asia, which is behind the annual sustainability conference CSR Asia Summit, will retain its name, with the company telling Eco-Business that it has the most well-recognised sustainability consulting brand in the region. 

Key projects CSR Asia has executed in recent years includes producing sustainability reports for the Hong Kong Airport Authority, the Marina Bay Sands Sustainability Highlights report for the casino giant, and supporting SGX with the stock exchange’s sustainability listing requirements, which were introduced in March last year.

CSR Asia also advises Chinese computer brand Huawei on stakeholder engagement around the Sustainable Development Goals, and with City Developments Limited to help the Singapore real estate firm get an understanding of the value of its sustainability efforts for stakeholders.

CSR Asia was set up more than a decade ago by Richard Welford, who remains the chairman, and Stephen Frost, who left just over a year ago to join Hong Kong-based sustainability marketing firm GoBlu.

Erin Lyon joined in 2005 to set up an office in Singapore, and the company has since expanded into new markets.

Spaulding commented that the deal points to a “robust and growing sustainability market” in Asia.

“As the market matures, companies are embracing sustainability not only for reputational management, but to improve business performance, retain talent, and make an impact in their communities,” he said.

Welford commented: “We now have the capacity to better support companies through extending our services into supply chains and responsible sourcing consulting.”

The news emerges just a month after global sustainability reporting consultancy Sustainalytics closed its Singapore office, citing soft market conditions in the citystate. The firm shifted its regional focus to Australia and Japan.

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