Gary Ashworth, Co-Founder & Chairman
Gary founded the InterQuest Group in November 2001 which now employs over 200 people with revenues in excess of £130m. Previously Gary was the founder of Abacus Recruitment plc, a group of recruitment agencies, including two in the IT recruitment sector. Abacus was floated on AIM in September 1995, was the best performing AIM share in both 1996 and 1997 and subsequently sold to Carlisle Holdings in 1998; initial investors achieved a tenfold multiple on their investment.
Over the years, Gary has been a perpetual investor in recruitment businesses, having acquired 15 companies and backing and launching a number of highly profitable start-up joint ventures. He has completed a number of successful exits, having sold businesses to trade and Private Equity buyers and is exceptionally well-known and connected in the recruitment M&A market in the UK. Gary is a Fellow and past President of the Institute of Employment Consultants and has worked in recruitment since 1980 and continues to be a regular speaker and contributor at industry events.
Chris Ledbury, Co-Founder & Managing Partner
Chris has worked in the recruitment sector since 1988, starting out as a recruitment consultant for a major professional services business, before venturing out to start up what became a national player in accountancy recruitment. He subsequently joined a smaller professional services recruiter which built significantly to the point whereby the senior management team injected their own capital, raised external funding and completed a management buy-out. Within 18 months, the business was floated on the London Stock Exchange and ultimately sold on to an international trade buyer.
Chris began investing in other recruitment businesses and ultimately joined Hamilton Bradshaw, a specialist Private Equity firm which has acquired and launched from scratch a number of recruitment businesses and has gone on to become one of the fastest growing recruitment groups in the world.
Chris remains an operator who works very closely with each business owner providing coaching, mentoring, and supporting them with a focus on commercial objectives and strategic vision. Over his 25 year recruitment lifetime, he has successfully grown and exited a range of companies. He has extensive experience operating and investing in businesses, having led or been part of management buy-outs and buy-ins, a full stock market listing, and trade sale exits.
Luke Johnson, Chief Investment Advisor
Luke studied medicine at Oxford and subsequently joined investment bank Kleinwort Benson as an analyst. In 1992 he organised the acquisition of PizzaExpress and floated the business on the stock market at 40p. He was Chairman of this business until 1999, at which time the share price was over 800p and the business had a market capitalisation of over £500 million.
Since that time, Luke has acquired, made investments in, launched and sold a wide range of businesses which include retail, leisure, services, media, broadcasting and recruitment and is considered to be one of the most capable investors in the UK today.
Luke has also been Chairman of Channel 4 Television and the Royal Society of Arts. He became Chairman of the Institute for Cancer Research in 2013. With many publications behind him, Luke continues to write for the Financial Times and is a highly regarded speaker at entrepreneurial and business events.