9-20 directors to target ‘technology-­rich hubs’

DIRECTORS at 9-20 Recruitment are to target “technology-­rich hubs” in the UK, Europe and the Middle East after a management buyout (MBO) and funding deal.

Brown: co-founder says company's backers are keen to make acquisitions. Picture: Contributed

The expansion drive should see the Glasgow-based firm initially open a base in Edinburgh to service a growing number of east coast clients. Aberdeen and Cambridge – which sits at the heart of “silicon fen” – are among the other UK cities on its radar.

Following the MBO, the firm is led by co-founder Gordon Brown, who has set a six-year goal of raising turnover ten-fold to £5 million.

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Under the deal, co-founder Wendy McDougall has bowed out to focus on developing her recruitment software tool.

Financial details surrounding the buyout are not being disclosed but it is understood that a group of four entrepreneurs has also made a “substantial six-figure” investment.

Brown, who held senior roles at Melville Craig and Search Consultancy before co-founding 9-20, said that he was looking to build a scaleable business based on staff incentives, including share options, divisional responsibility and directorships.

The ultimate aim, Brown added, was to take the firm into mainland Europe, the Middle East and possibly Asia.

“We now want to expand fairly aggressively and will be targeting the main technology hubs,” he said. “Our backers are keen to make acquisitions, and are probably looking to do some follow-on investment in a couple of years.”

Brown said that he already has three or four takeover targets in his sights.

“Once successfully established in Edinburgh and Aberdeen, our first port of call is likely to be Cambridge,” he added. “European hubs could include the Netherlands, which is largely English speaking and provides access to the likes of Germany.

“The key is to have significant success in the UK first.”

Employee numbers are set to double to ten by the end of November, prior to the push into the Scottish capital. Turnover is expected to double to more than £1m within the next 12 months.

McDougall said: “I have been focusing on the growth of Firefish Software over the past two years and Gordon was keen to drive 9-20 Recruitment forward to the next stage of the company’s exciting journey. I wish Gordon all the best.”

The firm will be developed into a renamed 9-20 Group and restructured into four areas – technology, digital marketing, sales and business development, and recruitment process outsourcing.