SPS set to buy Australian firm to help it grow

Chris Chidley, CEO of SPS 'Specialist People Services
Chris Chidley, CEO of SPS 'Specialist People Services
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YORKSHIRE-based Specialist People Services (SPS) aims to buy an Australian business as part of a strategy to turn it into a global brand.

The specialist recruitment firm, which is probably best known for owning Driver Hire, also revealed that it is on target to smash the £100m turnover barrier for the first time this year.

Chris Chidley, the Bradford-based company’s chief executive, said the company was trading “very strongly” in Australia, where new branches are planned in Sydney and Adelaide, to complement the existing offices in Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne.

Mr Chidley told The Yorkshire Post: “We have taken to Australia what we stand for in the UK - our focus has been on providing a high quality service, as opposed to chasing low price, high volume work.”

He added: “Looking ahead, we are confident in our position. We are actively pursuing acquisition opportunities in Australia and working to identify a further specialist business to join our UK portfolio.

“Our customers’ appetite for our services is increasing, along with the growth prospects of the UK economy and our overseas markets. All of this underpins our expectation of a strong end to our financial year.”

The company, which is backed by private equity investor LDC, said in a third quarter trading update that it expects total turnover for the year to the end of March 2015 to be at least £110m compared with £88m last year, after being boosted by rapid growth across all areas of the group. Mr Chidley said he expected full year profits to be “significantly up” on last year, but the company doesn’t currently disclose its profits figure. SPS includes Driver Hire Nationwide, the specialist transport and logistics recruiter; rail support services supplier ISS Labour and driver training provider Driver Hire Training.

The company also includes an eServices division, which offers online people management services such as dh Licence Check; and the international arm Driver Hire Australia.

Mr Chidley said he was ‘confident’ about future prospects, which were underpinned by strong demand for reliable temporary drivers.

He said: “The broad range of specialist services offered by the SPS Group provides us with a platform to reach an increasing number of businesses. Companies want access to great people and services to maximise the productivity of their workforce in an increasingly service-oriented economy.

“As a business, we’re capitalising on a flight to quality. The companies we serve expect a reliable supply of high-quality temporary labour. In addition, an increasing number of firms are coming to us for our wider range of services, such as driver training and online licence checking.”

Plans are in place to expand the UK network, with demand for temporary drivers expected to continue to rise in the long term. SPS is also benefiting from the integration of ISS Labour, which was acquired in November 2013.

The business, which is a supplier of services to many of Network Rail’s principal contractors, is expected to continue growing as a result of investment in the UK’s rail infrastructure. Elsewhere in the group, SPS enjoyed record growth in its Driver Hire Australia business, with sales set to double this year, when compared with 2014.