Telling the truth about SME life today

Business services

With economists forecasting that unemployment could soar to 3.3 million in 2010 ­and corporates reluctant to hire new staff, the four recruitment firms in this year’s Hot 100 will have their work cut out for them. With more than 20 years of experience in employment, a national network of training centres, and contracts with the government’s New Deal and Welfare to Work programmes, Seetec’s (13th) solid foundations should survive the economic earthquake.

Fusion People (36th) is also upbeat. The Hampshire-based recruitment firm reckons turnover will jump from £34.1m in 2008 to £40m this year. Its 200 staff must be rubbing their hands in glee: they all have an equity stake in the business.

Jark Recruitment (90th) founder John Buckman says his industrial, construction and healthcare recruitment specialist has smashed its targets, thanks to the acquisition of competitor Aptus last year.

Making its third successive appearance in the Hot 100 is £441m-turnover Giant Group (16th), an umbrella company to temporary workers, handling their personal admin. Its offices on the corner of New Oxford Street are ideally placed to attract thousands of temps thronging London.

Aegis Defence Services (35th), formed in 2002 by former-mercenary Tim Spicer, is also based in the capital. But this security and risk-management company has offices in Afghanistan, Iraq, Bahrain and the US, too. The conflict in Iraq meant a boom for Aegis, now one of the largest providers of personnel to the military.

David Evans runs his Hertfordshire-based performance improvement firm, Grass Roots (86th), with military precision. “We go into a recession with zero gearing. We don’t borrow any money and we have loads of cash in the bank.” His clients include BT, John Lewis and BP.

BuyingTeam’s (46th) customer list also reads like a who’s who of blue-chips. Founded in 1994 by Matthew Eatough and David Graham, this procurement consultancy is on the brink of expanding overseas.

Bartering company Astus UK (66th) is considering expanding beyond British soil, too. This £30.3m-turnover business sets up deals where clients pay for their advertising using their own goods and services.

Chris Millerchip and Robert Dow have been shaking up the legal world with their firm, Practical Law Company (79th). “We’ve changed the way lawyers work,” says Dow. 


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