Ghd entrepreneur puts people at heart of recruitment venture

​Entrepreneur Martin Penny, one of the co-founders of the world-famous hair straightener brand ghd, is to launch a new recruitment venture in January aimed at companies looking for “white collar” and “grey collar” workers.

Martin Penny and Howard Slinger, co-founders of new recruitment business Morgan King

The new Leeds-based firm, which will be called Morgan King, hopes to differentiate itself by getting to know businesses and their requirements rather than relying on technology to sift through candidates.

Mr Penny is making what the firm described as a “significant six figure investment” in the new set up, which will be co-founded by Howard Slinger, a recruitment specialist with over 25 years’ experience in the industry.

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In the past, Mr Slinger has specialised within the construction, rail and technical recruitment markets, recruiting people at senior and executive levels.

He said his vision is to get back to basics and build a recruitment business based around people.

“I understand how important it is for a recruitment business to be truly consultative and match the right person with the right position,” he said.

“This is an industry centred around people. However, too often, recruiters rely on technology to do the job and put forward candidates without really getting to know the people or business involved, instead of working to find the perfect fit.

“At Morgan King, our proposition is all about people, with clients and candidates being equally important.

“Fostering long term relationships will form the platform for the growth and scale of the business.”​

One of the three people behind the rise of ghd, Mr Penny helped build up the iconic brand before exiting the company in 2012.

He has since founded a number of ventures including designer handbag label Jack French London. Mr Penny invested £400,000 in the handbag business, which has won celebrity endorsements from the likes of model Kate Moss, singer Lady Gaga and designer Sadie Frost.

Talking about his new venture, Mr Penny said: “People are the most important part of every business. In my experience the increasing shortage of certain skills in the market is matched
by a shortage of really good recruitment partners who understand what people businesses need, and who are willing to look at the longer term rather than a sales driven model,” said Mr Penny.

“I wanted to work with a proven expert in placement and bring a service-centric model to the Yorkshire market. We aim to be an extension of the HR or management team that firms retain to improve the quality of their hiring process and to save long term HR costs.”

The firm will launch from its new offices in City Square in Leeds next month.​

Mr Slinger said: “With the skills gap moving higher up the agenda for many businesses, there is a particular need for companies to find able people for what we term ‘grey collar’ roles, those between blue collar and white collar positions. With our expertise in recruiting for technical positions, this is an area we will be focussing on.”

Mr Penny said there has been a large number of private equity deals of recruitment firms over the last 18 months, which he said was a sure sign that value in these businesses is likely to rise over the next five years.

“There’s no doubt that recruitment is currently a hot sector​,” he said.

“I believe that Howard’s ethos of creating a business that is all about people will resonate with many employers, giving Morgan King a bright future.”