It’s little more than a decade since Peter Hart and Derek Simpson launched technical recruitment consultancy Austin Fraser from a garage in Reading
Within a year they had achieved their first million and, by the end of their recent financial year in February 2017, turnover was just over £40 million, with offices in Reading, Austin, Texas and Munich, and Berlin opened along the way.
Just last month, Austin Fraser was ranked at number 14 in the Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200, which ranks Britain’s mid-market private companies with the fastest-growing international sales; and among many other accolades, earlier this year was placed third in the Top 100 Best Companies to Work For.
Focusing on key sectors of digital, technology, life sciences, automation and aviation, the business now employs 154 staff, 100 of whom have just moved into what CEO Hart calls their own personal “Utopia” – brand new office space in the newly-refurbished Thames Tower in the heart of Reading.
“Thames Tower ticks all the right boxes, we always put huge value on our people and are very conscious that there are a number of factors when it comes to attracting great talent and retaining people,” he said.
“Environment is one of those factors and we are always on a journey to improve it, with Thames Tower it feels as if we have been able to execute our own idea of Utopia, to put our stamp on the building and enable our team to flourish.”
Fitted with the latest technology, the building comes complete with floor-to-ceiling windows and a communal sky garden, and is just two minutes from the station, restaurants, bars and gyms.
Providing a £750,000 term loan for the move is Barclays, which has been Austin Fraser’s banker since the very beginning.
“Barclays has been a real key support for us over the past 10 years. We have a very good relationship with David Rushbrook and his team and ultimately they have been great because they give us the human factor,” continued Hart.
“Throughout, they have given us a face-to-face forum to describe, explain and rationalise what we are doing. They have proven to be a great sounding board, and we have thought about every potential outcome that might affect our overall growth – that has been fantastic.”
David Rushbrook, Barclays’ relationship director, Reading and Basingstoke, said: “To work with the directors of Austin Fraser to help support the growth and success of the business has been a real privilege. We have a strong collaborative working relationship which has helped significantly in the understanding of the direction and plans of the business in delivering the success we see today.”
Hart puts much of the consultancy’s success down to its ability to attract and retain talented individuals and says it is also about inspiring them to develop their own careers.
Maintaining a diverse client base across its recruitment specialities has also been important, with key milestone moments over the past decade including winning the Norwich Union contract as it transformed into Aviva, and working with EADS over a four-year period.
Although the Brexit factor looms large for many businesses, Hart says he prefers to focus on issues that are under their control. In Austin Fraser’s case this means investing in infrastructure and mobile technology and building market share across more of the UK, as well as in its existing German and US markets, where later this summer the company will open a further office in Denver, Colorado.
“Our commitment to the UK has never wavered,” he said. I love coming to work because of the people that work for us. We are on a journey and the most important thing is that we enjoy what we do, we are all here to better ourselves and, as we grow the business, success will attract more success – we still have a long way to go.”
The views expressed in this article are the views of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Barclays Bank PLC Group nor should they be taken as statements of policy or intent of the Barclays Bank PLC Group. The Barclays Bank PLC Group takes no responsibility for the veracity of information contained in the third party guides or articles and no warranties or undertakings of any kind, whether express or implied, regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information given. The Barclays Bank PLC Group takes no liability for the impact of any decisions made based on information contained and views expressed.
Barclays is a trading name of Barclays Bank PLC and its subsidiaries. Barclays Bank PLC is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (Financial Services Register No 122702). Registered in England. Registered number is 1026167 with registered office at 1 Churchill Place, London E14 5HP. July 2017.