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New blood shakes up family business

Nimlok is very much a family affair. Perutz’s father, Gerald, founded the exhibition stand manufacturer with Neil Nimmo in 1970. Today, Gerald serves as chairman with his two sons acting as MDs in the UK and US. Tim Perutz controls the UK arm.

“I joined the firm in 1992,” says Perutz. “Back then we were turning over less than £2m, down from £4m, with 16 employees and a serious overdraft. Today, we employ 250 and turn over $100m.”

Perutz didn’t have the warmest welcome when he started at the company, fresh-faced out of university. Especially when his first move as MD was to shake up the management team.

“It was difficult to replace the old guard,” he admits. “As you would expect, there was a certain amount of resentment of me being appointed the managing director, someone who knew nothing about the industry, 27 years old, brought in, the son of the owner and everybody expected me to screw it up in five minutes flat.”

Amidst the mutterings of nepotism “and less polite things”, the young director sought to prove himself.

“I closed a whole series of regional offices,” he says. “The head office was in Floral Street in Covent Garden in Central London, and the manufacturing facility was up here in Northampton. It didn’t make any sense. I closed the head office in London and consolidated the operations in Northamptonshire.”

Within three years, Perutz had halted Nimlok’s downturn in revenues and the company was back in the black. “And we’re still growing today,” he says. “We’re averaging about 15 per cent year-on-year.”


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