In 2000 Graphite invested in the start-up of Huntress, a diversified recruitment business operating in the secretarial, IT, accountancy and financial sectors. At the time of exit Huntress had 15 offices, mainly in the South East of England and London, and had grown its customer base to include 56 of the FTSE 100 companies.
The deal offered an opportunity to invest in a high quality management team led by Gary Laurence, whom we had successfully backed before. The team had the vision to create a diversified white collar staffing business with a culture and incentive schemes to attract the best recruiters in each of its niche sectors. Huntress was aiming to achieve an even split of temporary and permanent placements. Graphite identified the office roll-out strategy as a key driver of growth.
KEY BUSINESS ACHIEVEMENTS
Achieved higher turnover in its first year than any other recruitment firm
Opened 15 offices as part of its roll-out expansion strategy
Founder Gary Laurence won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in both 2004 and 2005
Grew both sales and EBITDA at a compound rate of over 40 per cent in the five years prior to exit
Consistently generated strong cash flow, enabling the shareholders to redeem a significant proportion of their investment ahead of exit
RETURN ON GRAPHITE'S INVESTMENT
In 2007 Huntress was sold for £41 million to Nomura Private Equity, generating a multiple of 7.6 times cost and an IRR of 39 per cent.