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Frank Recruitment Group's export success story

Zoe Morris (Frank Recruitment Group)

Created by Zoe Morris (Frank Recruitment Group), 25th February 2019

3 MINUTE READ


Zoe Morris, President of Frank Recruitment Group, shares the company’s inspirational export success story that has seen it open 16 offices on four continents. 

Can you tell us about your business in the time it takes to make a cup of tea?

Frank Recruitment Group is a recruitment firm that specialises in niche technology staffing. We find jobs for people working in specialist tech channels like CRM, ERP, and cloud computing.

We launched in 2006 in a small office in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. We had just three members of staff. Now we have nine brands, and employ more than 1,700 staff who work out of 16 offices on four continents.

Last year, our massive and consistent growth earned us a spot on three of The Sunday Times’ business league tables: Britain’s private companies with the fastest-growing profits, Britain’s private companies with the fastest-growing international sales, and Britain’s private mid-market growth companies with the biggest sales.

When did the company begin exporting and which territories did you start in?

We first started serving international markets in 2009. We put together teams of native language speakers to help us deliver Microsoft professionals to businesses in mainland Europe. The next year, we launched our first US office in New York’s Financial District, and a location in Singapore to allow us to service Asia-Pacific.

Over the next few years, we opened further offices across Europe, a dedicated office in Australia, and countless more locations in the US.

Did you receive advice or guidance from anyone in the region to start your exporting journey?

We spoke to other North East businesses who’d managed to effectively export their services, and by connecting with other entrepreneurs in a similar position, we discovered that we were eligible for a business grant.

When we launched our niche tech recruitment firm Nigel Frank in 2006, we always had plans to become a global business, but first, we needed to be able to cement our brand and reach potential candidates and clients in our target markets.

We needed a professional-looking website for our UK client-base, as well as versions in multiple languages to step up our online presence across Europe. The development of a reliable and practical website really was central to our operations. We just didn’t have the capital to fund the type of functionality we were looking for.

We applied for a grant from the North East England Investment Centre, requesting funds to cover the cost of the website build and enhancements that would help us get a foothold in Europe. This grant, and the subsequent web platform it paid for, ended up being invaluable to our exporting success.

Can you dispel any myths businesses might have about exporting?

You’re never too small to go global. We were still a very small business when we started our foray into international trade. In today’s market, there are fewer barriers to exporting. You don’t need a lot of outlay or infrastructure, and there are countless services and technologies available to help you.

How has exporting improved your business?

International growth has been absolutely essential to our success. When we decided to begin focusing on niche technology markets, we were able to build our knowledge and become true specialists in our chosen industries.

That’s the beauty of a niche focus; you have an opportunity to be the absolute best in your ecosystem, to truly lead the way. The flipside of that, if you’re starting out in a relatively small market like the UK, is that there isn’t a huge amount of room to grow because the market is finite.

Once we began covering non-domestic markets, and delivering an exceptional, consistent service around the world, we had a much wider scope. Our commitment to exporting our services internationally is what led to us becoming global leaders in many of the markets we operate in.

What advice would you give to North East business looking to export?

The Department for International Trade estimates that 400,000 businesses believe they could export but don’t. The UK is currently enjoying an increase in export growth, so now is a good time to think about creating an export strategy if you don’t already have one.

One of the best tips I could give is to take all the help you can get. Getting that financing from local investment schemes was vital in our early days, and you never know what you could be eligible for unless you look into it.

We knew that business grants were out there, but we’d never given any thought to applying for one. You hear about businesses being awarded this kind of funding and you often assume it’s not for your type of company, or your industry. But the fact is there are a huge number of grants and schemes available, and there’s almost definitely one tailored for your organisation.  

It’s definitely worth creating a business case and looking into what grants you could apply for. It’s in a local authority’s interests to support small businesses, even when you’re expanding your trade outside the area, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Today, Frank Recruitment Group is one of the biggest private sector employers in Newcastle. We employ hundreds of people, and our success is beneficial to the city.

You never know what’s on the table until you ask. Even a small shot of capital can make all the difference when you’re starting out on your exporting journey.

Frank Recruitment Group is one of only four North East businesses ranked in the Sunday Times International Track 200. How can North East businesses boost their export growth? 

The Chamber has specialist advisers who support companies to attend these events every step of the way. It also has a dedicated export documentation service which facilitates international trade to the four corners of the globe.

There’s still a lot of ambiguity around what our trade status will be post-Brexit, so it’s a good time to look into other markets that can bolster your export growth. Recently, the North East’s export trade has really picked up in some key global markets: trade to Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America has increased 27% and 17% respectively. So don’t be afraid to widen your net when it comes to dipping into new markets. There are worlds beyond Europe and the US.

When you’re looking into these new areas, though, it’s really important to do your research. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to operating in diverse international markets. What works for one region may not work for another.


Zoe Morris (Frank Recruitment Group)

Created by Zoe Morris (Frank Recruitment Group), 9 months ago


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