New Staffline CEO Pullen on the acquisition trail

The new CEO of recruitment and employment organisation Staffline Group has wasted no time in making his mark with the acquisition of three staffing businesses.

Chris Pullen, who took over from former CEO Andy Hogarth in January, told Recruiter that the acquisition of food, agriculture and logistics sector recruiter Endeavour Group and its subsidiary Vital Recruitment was absolutely in line with the group’s strategy. “About 70% of our business is in food production, it’s absolutely what we do. It’s the core of our recruitment business.”

Pullen said the acquisition was also in line with the strategy he set out when taking over from Hogarth of strengthening the group’s geographical presences where it was weak or non-existent. “Geographically, this has strengthened our presence in the South of England where there was a gap; there was very little overlap with the rest of the business.”

The acquisition supports Staffline Recruitment’s vision “to be the trusted market leader, providing a single destination for blue collar workers and employers to connect across the UK”. With a number of large blue-chip clients, “Vital will help further extend the Staffline network”.

The Staffline Group has two business divisions: Staffline Recruitment and PeoplePlus.

Audited accounts for the year to March 2017 show that Endeavour had a turnover of £83m and a profit before tax of £0.5m.

Pullen said that while nobody knows how Brexit will affect the agriculture and food sector, a permit scheme, which was something Staffline was well used to dealing with, was a likely outcome. Irrespective of the final details of Brexit, Pullen said the low level of unemployment  in the UK economy meant that the labour market was likely to remain tight. “A tight labour market is an opportunity for us,” he added.

Since Pullen’s took over the top job, Staffline has moved away from its former goal of a £1bn business and now focuses on a profit target of 200p of earnings per share by 2022. Pullen said there was now “no pressure” to make acquisitions, although “we are always open to strategic opportunities”. “It is really all about doing the right thing by the business to deliver the profits.”

Staffline also announced two smaller acquisitions made in February:

  • UK Distribution Personnel Ltd: incorporated in 2000, predominantly a driver recruitment agency based in the South-East of England.
  • M&B Staff Services: trade only purchase. A staffing recruitment business based in the Republic of Ireland.

Both businesses have an annual turnover of less than £5m and a profit before tax of less than £0.5m.

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