Business Week – Quantica’s leap.

Recruitment and training group Quantica is about to reveal whether its policy of not putting all its eggs in one basket has proved to be profitable as it announces its annual results. In September the company split its main businesses into two divisions, separating its technology recruitment division from its specialist professional services and healthcare group. ‘We split because of the might of the businesses,’ finance director Robert Turner told Accountancy Age, ‘We have grown both organically and by acquisition and we now have in total 12 businesses.’ To lead the new divisions, Quantica appointed two new heads: Mick Buttle from rival Computer People to head up the former and Rob Bishop lead the latter. Bishop, who now sits on the board of directors, set up Quantica Crossley House, one of Quantica’s biggest businesses that specialises in executive professional recruitment for specific businesses. The flat reporting structure, in which the divisional heads report directly to the plc board is now easier to work with, said the finance director. ‘We’re trying to build a quality business and not to put all our eggs in one basket’, he explained, ‘We try and keep a balanced portfolio of business so that we’re not overly weighted in one type of business and not another.’ According to Turner, the balancing act allows them to weather the fluctuations when one job market is weaker than another. The weakness in the technology sector sunk some firms that specialised in IT recruitment, for example, while Quantica didn’t suffer too badly. ‘We had a difficult first half but, because of our balanced portfolio, our specialist professional services and healthcare recruitment business made up for our weakness in the technology sector.’ The company also tries to balance the types of contract they offer. Turner observed that when economy is weak companies tend to take on temporary staff, while when things are booming, they tend to take on permanent contracts. ‘The split has been very good for the company, said Turner. ‘The way it’s managed allows us to use the synergies and get the most benefits between the cross-selling. Once we’ve got a relationship with the client we can build on it to sell our services.’ Therefore, when one Quantica business sells one specific type of recruit into one business, it can help the client when looking for recruits in another type of service. With offices throughout the UK, Quantica also recruits internationally for blue-chip companies including Cable & Wireless. ‘We are embarking on an aggressive expansion program and we opened two new offices within the last months,’ said Turner, who is hopeful about the growing healthcare sector. The finance director is a chartered accountant who qualified with the ICAEW. After training with Pricewaterhouse in Manchester, he moved to building company Heywood Williams and then to Pilkinson, specialising in building materials. Before his current position, Turner worked with First Group transportation company. ‘All the businesses I’ve worked with have had similar cultures’ he said. ‘They have an entrepreneurial culture with a lot of flare this is because you are dealing with people who have built up the businesses themselves.’

Turner added that the chief executive Les Lawson had built up this business from the ground.

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SNAPSHOT Interim results to May 31 2000 Turnover: £9.3m Costs: £7.6 Profit after taxation:£1.1m Executive Directors: Les Lawson CE (June 1997); Robert Turner FD (January 2001) Auditor: KPMG Company Profile: Recruitment specialist Quantica dates back to 1991 and floated on the London Stock Exchange in June 1998.

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