Views from a CEO – Giles Hampson, CEO of Recruitment Management Group
RMG has successfully positioned itself within the recruitment sector as an executive search consultancy. The firm takes pride in recruiting outstandingly talented people who make a significant and lasting impact across a range of sectors including healthcare and chemicals and STEM.
Level of investment received
£300,000 from Mercia’ SME Loans Fund in January 2017 to support at buy-out of the founder-shareholder.
Why did you choose Mercia over other providers of finance?
As the transaction started life as a vendor-initiated management buy-out (VIMBO) it was actually the founder of RMG who had led the initial discussions with the team at Mercia. Some of the negotiations were already underway by the time I joined the process, but the main thing which impressed me about Mercia was its investment director, Chris Pestell.
Chris gave a deep overview of the process, warts and all. He was really good in presenting the fund proposition, as well as giving practical details about the process itself, including how and why transactions like ours could get into difficulty.
Negotiations like this take time and ours took around six months but throughout the process Mercia was really supportive of the transaction and the process itself was seamless.
I keep in contact with Chris now even though he’s not my day to day contact but I’m very grateful to him. Without Chris’ support I wouldn’t have received the investment.
My main investment contact now is Paul Ferguson. Paul is great; he’s reasonable and very good to deal with and he’s shown a really flexible approach as a lender.
What progress has RMG made since the initial investment?
I’m pleased to say that our sales have strengthened since the investment. The business itself had often hit around £750,000 turnover, but since we received the investment, we have consistently met £1million. Of course, this year might be a little different, but we have worked really hard to maintain our sales levels.
How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect your business?
It was actually the week before lock-down which was a bit more surreal. We had a few projects stalled and candidates pulled out of roles and nobody really knew what was going on. But we had to maintain our pipeline as we couldn’t have just closed our doors. In the following weeks we worked hard to maintain our contacts and build the pipeline. We didn’t need to furlough any of our staff or ask for any capital repayment holidays on the loan, so I am pleased with how we have come through the year.
Mercia was really supportive during the period too. Chris gave us some helpful advice about managing cashflow which was great. I also found the series of webinars they ran excellent; they helped me to think things through and bounce ideas of other people and the sessions run by Patrick Dunne were very reassuring indeed.
How would you describe Mercia as a lender?
Merica is a responsive, straightforward, flexible, and practical lender. The team is open minded, and they operate a robust process. You know you have to prove yourself and the value you can add, there were some tough conversations during the early days of the process, but I actually thought that was useful. The team asked more probing questions than some of the other lenders we had been talking to, so you know you are buying into a professional outfit.
What advice would you give to other SMEs seeking finance from Mercia?
The most important thing to consider when assessing a potential lender, is not just the offering and the deal terms, but the people you will be working with as part of this process. See things beyond the actual transaction and try to get a feel for what type of support, challenge and working relationship you are going to have. Like it or not, you will be having plenty of dealings with any lender post transaction, in either an equity or debt scenario, there is often a saying that says “People buy from people”, in this case I believe this can be extended to “people borrow from people!”