Recruitment firm bids to bounce back

A Norfolk-based recruitment firm is hoping to expand its work force by 16pc this year after a 'period of consolidation' caused by the recession which saw turnover drop sharply and more than a third of its staff laid off.

Jark has 25 branches across the UK, but was founded in Swaffham and now has its headquarters in Dereham.

It also has local offices in Norwich and King's Lynn.

The firm has divisions specialising in construction, commercial, driving, healthcare, industrial and public sector recruitment, and also just launched a home support arm for residential carers.

Turnover at the business rose from �42m in the year ending March 31 2007 to �63m the year after.

The acquisition of nationwide recruitment firm Aptus in March 2008 saw the company's income jump to �92m in the following year, ending 2009.

Staff numbers at Jark also rose quickly due to the purchase, from 127 in 2008 to 326 in 2010.

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But the recession took a toll and caused turnover to drop to �65m in 2010, and the firm estimates that the last 12 months will have remained stable at that level.

A round of redundancies in the year after the acquisition of Aptus also saw the total number of employees fall by over 110 to 205.

But chairman John Buckman said that despite the dip in turnover caused by the recession, the company had performed 'on par' with the recruitment industry as whole.

'This last year we've seen the mar-ket stabilise and we're now getting ready to invest for growth again,' he said.

'We've kept the business very stable and controlled. We're now coming out of recession and increasing our head count by 16pc.

'We've increased our management structure and look to expand again,' he added.

The new staff would be distributed at offices across the country, not at its Norfolk headquarters.

He stressed that, despite having branches all over the country, the firm would remain based in the region.

'We're not moving from Norfolk. It's where we're going to stay,' he said.