Livingston James continue to expand

The Glasgow-based recruitment company expands as it marks its first year in employee ownership.

February 14, 2024

The firm has unveiled several internal promotions and a range of new hires as it looks to capitalise on a strong end to 2023, and anticipates market conditions to rebound strongly in the second half of the year.

The personnel boost has been funded by the firm’s performance in 2023, which saw it report net fee income of around £4 million on turnover in the region of £6m.

Livingston James became the first recruitment specialist in Scotland to move into staff hands in February last year, when the equity of the business, including sister firm Rutherford Cross, was placed into an employee ownership trust.

Chief executive Jamie Livingston, who formed the company with Andy Rogerson in 2010, prior to buying out his co-founder in 2019, remains chief executive.

He told The Herald“The profit has enabled investment in new hires and talent we are confident will help drive sustainable growth in 2024 and beyond.”

Mr Livingston said the already-strong culture of the organisation has “reached another level” following the switch to employee ownership. And the firm has underlined the confidence in its growth potential by augmenting its ranks and making some key internal promotions, with plans to add even more staff later this year.

The firm, which now has a headcount of 26, has revealed that Mark Lewis, managing director of finance recruitment specialist Rutherford Cross, has stepped up to become group chief operations officer, while Sophie Randles, director of Livingston James, has moved into the group commercial director role. This is in addition to her focus on private equity, renewables, and professional services.

In other internal moves, director Ali Shaw has taken on P&L and team leadership roles at Livingston James, with Francesca Christophersen assuming head of operations duties for the group. Rachel Sim and Harry Thomson have moved into new roles focusing on key technology appointments and research support.

Changes at Rutherford Cross have seen director Hazel Wynn add professional services and specialist finance to her portfolio, meaning she now leads all of the permanent recruitment teams in Scotland. Will Dodds has been promoted to manager and now leads Rutherford Cross in Edinburgh and the east, while Jonny Donnelly has been similarly elevated and now leads the team in Glasgow and the west. Harry Young is now a manager and is tasked with developing business in new territories in Scotland.

The internal promotions have been accompanied by a raft of new hires, with Fraser Burnett, Euan Bodie, Ally Deas, Claudia Prat and Noortje Teeuwen joining Rutherford Cross, and Rachael Birkett and Fern Robertson arriving to support the group at its offices in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The changes follow a fruitful year for the company in 2023, during which it was responsible for more than 330 hires – more than 70% of which were for permanent roles. Over 50 new clients were added to the roster and the company said it remains on track to achieve growth of 10% year-on-year.

Private equity, technology, and the family business sectors have been identified as areas of growth in 2024, with the firm also expected to be busy hiring for accountancy and senior professional roles.

Mr Livingston said the move into employee ownership means that all staff now have a stake in the firm’s prosperity, meaning that everyone on the team has taken on a “greater level of responsibility” for its success.

He told The Herald: “It’s been an evolution rather than a revolution. We already had a strong, positive, and constructive workplace culture, and employee ownership has enabled that to reach another level. Addressing the practical challenges of implementing employee ownership has provided insight that has led to positive changes, not least in how we seek and receive external feedback, which in turn has helped us refine and improve our service. There is also greater empowerment and accountability across the group, and this round of promotions reflects that.”

Mr Livingston added: “There is a greater awareness of the importance of both top and bottom line across the business, and that’s enabled us to navigate market headwinds. There was a tangible sense of ‘we’re all in this together’ as the market tightened in the final quarter of last year, and we responded with record performance in December. I’m not sure that would’ve happened without employee ownership.”

Asked to sum up current conditions in the recruitment market, Mr Livingston noted: “The market tightened in the second half of 2023, but a significant uptick in demand in December has continued into January driving a strong start to this calendar year. We have identified that hiring and on-boarding processes are taking longer than normal, prompted by a nervousness on both sides of the fence – client and candidate.

“However, we know that organisations have significant investment available, and most are waiting for the bottom of the market. Consequently, things will bounce back quickly and strongly when it turns. We expect that to happen in the second half of 2024 and some of the savvier firms have already begun to hire strategically now to avoid the rush later in the year. Those that follow suit will achieve the same.”