Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Man Who Can't Help Making Fortunes-; PROFILE: RECRUITMENT IS TONY REEVES' BUSINESS...AND HE'S PROVED TIME AND AGAIN THAT WORK PAYS

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Man Who Can't Help Making Fortunes-; PROFILE: RECRUITMENT IS TONY REEVES' BUSINESS...AND HE'S PROVED TIME AND AGAIN THAT WORK PAYS

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRIS BLACKHURST

WHY do some people display an unerring knack for making money while most do not? There appears no hard and fast rule.

True, many serial entrepreneurs haven't been to university.

They're driven, energetic, restless types. You get the feeling that every moment of every day they're thinking of new ways of adding to their pile.

They may profess to enjoy a round of golf or watching football but, even then, you suspect their minds are on business.

It seems to be in their water. They find spotting a potential profit as natural as learning to ride a bike. They can do it over and over again. Take Tony Reeves. He's made not one, not two, but at least three fortunes.

He can't help it. He's been running businesses and buying and selling them all his life, ever since he sold a disco on the Costa Brava. While his contemporaries are planning retirement, he's running hotgroup, the hugely successful AIM-listed online recruitment consultancy.

He's chairman and chief executive of the agency, which has made 11 acquisitions in recent years and intends to make more. In the past two years, annual revenue at the firm has grown trebled. Figures out today show another quarter of strong growth.

Profits are expected to double in the next year, to [pounds sterling]6 million. From what was effectively a standing start four years ago, the company is now worth around [pounds sterling]50 million.

In itself this would be remarkable - there are very few dot coms in the black, let alone producing this sort of growth (and, by the way, Reeves is a very undotcom 64). But he's done it before. He grew up on a Battersea council estate. Dad was a builder by trade who, in later years, went on to head Trollope & Colls. He passed the 11-plus and went to grammar school, then to engineering college in Brixton. "I was only good at sports and maths so I was told to train as an engineer."

Where chance intervened was that, instead of heading into the obscurity of working for a large firm, he decided to go freelance - "I needed the money".

An employer asked him if he knew other freelancers and the idea of a temping recruitment consultancy for engineers and draughtsmen was born. In 1973, he sold the firm, Acorn Engineering to Alfred Marks for what, in today's money, would have been [pounds sterling]2.5 million.

He joined the main board of Alfred Marks, then owned by the Marks family.

When they sold to Adia, he became vice-president of the larger group. It was the late Seventies and Western companies were tapping a rich seam, supplying healthcare to the oil-rich Gulf states. Reeves handled this side of things for Adia, supplying nurses and other workers to hospitals in the region. When Adia said it was no longer going to be involved in large hospital projects, Reeves asked to be allowed to buy the business out. …

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