Ciphr enhances HR offering with Shape Payroll acquisition

Ciphr logo and motto pictured on a white background.
(Image credit: Ciphr)

HR software provider Ciphr has announced the acquisition of cloud-based payroll platform Shape, in a move the firm said will further strengthen its payroll business and drive further growth.

Founded in 2018, Shape Payroll provides an intuitive API-led platform that automates payroll activities from employee records to tax and national insurance contributions, complete with dedicated support. Since its inception, the platform has grown to serve 1,500 businesses across the UK.

As part of its acquisition, Shape’s team, including its co-founders Alex and Cheri Bartlett, have joined Ciphr. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In an announcement, Ciphr said the addition of Shape will help accelerate the development of its payroll technology and deliver an “even better experience” for both new and existing customers.

“Shape is a cutting-edge, API-first payroll solution that has a great reputation in the payroll sector,” commented Sion Lewis, CEO of Ciphr. “Shape’s applications are extensive and well-suited to medium and large-sized organizations, like Ciphr’s customers.”

With more than 40 years’ experience in the HR and payroll industry, Reading-based Ciphr provides software and solutions for medium and large organizations across the UK, with the firm’s integrated HR, payroll, learning, and recruitment offerings designed to equip HR teams with detailed insights that drive their people strategy.

The company, alongside its subsidiary Marshall E-Learning, currently serves more than 800 organizations across the country – including the likes of Volkswagen Group UK, Crisis UK, the Met Office, Police Scotland, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, and more.

With the acquisition of Shape, Ciphr said it is now looking to capitalize on a period of strong payroll-related growth. Since April, the company has added 20 new payroll customers - including payroll software, outsourced payroll, and payroll bureau customers – as well as expanded its team of payroll experts.

“Building out Ciphr’s payroll business is a key focus for us this year, and part of our longer-term growth strategy. And Shape is a perfect fit to take our payroll tech to the next level,” Lewis added.

“This acquisition will truly enhance our payroll proposition and help us to continue to support and empower the payroll professionals who use, and rely on, Ciphr’s software and solutions.”

Business as usual after Ciphr acquisition

With regard to Shape’s existing customers, Ciphr said they can expect a “seamless transition” with continued access to products and dedicated support.

“We’re delighted to welcome Shape customers to Ciphr,” Lewis said.


“They can rest assured that they’ll continue to benefit from the same dedicated service they’ve known, while Ciphr’s additional resources mean we can continue to develop new, more functionality-rich features for our combined customer base.”

Post-acquisition, Ciphr said it will also continue to work with Shape’s commercial partners to power their payroll products.

“With the help of the amazing team at Ciphr, we will be able to take our application to the next level,” commented Alex Bartlett, co-founder of Shape Payroll. “And being part of the Ciphr brand will enable us to help customers we couldn’t have reached before.”

Daniel Todd

Dan is a freelance writer and regular contributor to ChannelPro, covering the latest news stories across the IT, technology, and channel landscapes. Topics regularly cover cloud technologies, cyber security, software and operating system guides, and the latest mergers and acquisitions.

A journalism graduate from Leeds Beckett University, he combines a passion for the written word with a keen interest in the latest technology and its influence in an increasingly connected world.

He started writing for ChannelPro back in 2016, focusing on a mixture of news and technology guides, before becoming a regular contributor to ITPro. Elsewhere, he has previously written news and features across a range of other topics, including sport, music, and general news.