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Growth-focused Aardvark expands into new sectors and overseas

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 05, 2013

Sarah Symonds' Aardvark Consulting has dramatically increased its turnover as it extends its international reach

Sarah Symonds' Aardvark Consulting has dramatically increased its turnover as it extends its international reach

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A Westcountry recruitment agency is growing from strength to strength, weathering the recession to become a £1.8 million turnover international business that has almost doubled its revenues to £3.5 million this year.

Sarah Symonds is celebrating the 50% growth achieved by her Plymouth-based company, Aardvark Consulting, during 2013.

Since establishing the business from home in 2005, she has grown it into a global operation, primarily specialising in high-end hires within the information technology and engineering sectors.

The business has also expanded its own team, recently taking on its eighth member of staff.

Ms Symonds operated as a sole trader for the first two years, until 2007, when she took on two employees and became one of the first businesses to join the Plymouth University Formation Zone.

Now located from an office in the city's Drake Circus, much of the company's focus is upon servicing clients and establishing new leads internationally.

The business, which also has a London office, established a Brussels base in 2010. It is looking ahead to cementing its increasing Scandinavian presence in 2014 and currently evaluating whether to base its new office in Norway, Sweden or Denmark.

Ms Symonds said: "Last year, the Norwegian market accounted for roughly 70% of our business. On the engineering side, we are also looking at Asia and the Middle East."

The business began by specialising in recruiting IT experts for client businesses, also handling the paperwork involved in securing the right visas, administrating tax forms and other red tape.

It expanded into recruiting engineers for the oil and gas industry at the tail end of 2011 and is also currently exploring evolving yet further, into the renewables sector.

The business moved on and upwards through the downturn, reacting to opportunities where they emerged by adapting accordingly.

"We had to be flexible in finding markets that were not in deep, deep recession and as we are relatively small, have been able to be nimble in our strategies," said Ms Symonds.

The business took on new staff including apprentices straight from school in the summer, with a campaign currently under way to find up to two new recruits to support its continued expansion in 2014.

Ms Symonds doesn't see being based in the South West as a disadvantage.

She said: "The South West is a great place to start a business. People are friendly and willing to help. They see a fledgling new business and want to help it succeed. It's refreshing to have such a supportive network of people around you – and without the early support of Plymouth University and the business community here, we would not be as successful as we are now."

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