Covid rebound sees Edinburgh's Denholm Associates double headcount and post record revenue

Denholm Associates, the Edinburgh-based recruitment specialist, has posted record revenue and doubled its headcount since the onset of the pandemic.
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Chief executive Nicki Denholm said the executive search and recruitment agency had “reinvented itself during the pandemic”, which “spurred diversification” at the business she founded 20 years ago.

In the year to the end of December 2021, Denholm increased revenue to £2.5 million, up from £1.2m a year earlier after income was impacted by the economic fallout from the pandemic. The firm launched a hub-style office in Leith, and is said to be “actively looking” at opening similarly styled offices in other locations.

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Driven by its new strategy, the agency has hired extensively over the last 18 months and now has a headcount of 32, with further hiring planned for the rest of 2022. The firm launched four specialist practices in 2021 - technology, accounting and finance, business services, and manufacturing and engineering.

John Denholm and Nicki Denholm of Denholm Associates. Picture: Stewart AttwoodJohn Denholm and Nicki Denholm of Denholm Associates. Picture: Stewart Attwood
John Denholm and Nicki Denholm of Denholm Associates. Picture: Stewart Attwood

Denholm said: “During the pandemic we had to adapt and find new markets by offering recruitment support to our clients beyond our traditional marketing specialisation. We now have five divisions covering all our clients’ key business functions.

“The common thread is our ability to leverage our digital marketing heritage to attract and enthuse scarce talent.”

She added: “When you look at areas like remote working, hybrid working, mental health and wellbeing, these subjects, quite rightly, have more importance today in the world of work than at any point before.

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Employers can’t ignore how these changes are influencing employees’ attitudes to how and where they want to work. Their employer brand is absolutely integral to attracting and retaining people, and their ability to be competitive in today’s war for talent.”

John Denholm, executive chairman, said: “While two decades of specialist marketing expertise, including recent digital marketing trends, are still very much in our DNA, we’ve been able to apply those marketing principles to how we attract talent across multiple industry sectors, and that’s proving to be a big differentiator for us in the market.”

The company’s growing client base includes Glenmorangie, The R&A, Edrington UK, Edinburgh International Festival, Irn-Bru maker AG Barr, Virgin Money, Scottish Investment Trust, Beam Suntory and Hilton Worldwide.

Nicki Denholm said the firm remained in a “period of significant disruption”.

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She added: “Covid-19 has made us all reflect on our priorities and it’s had a huge impact on the recruitment market. People want to work in a way that fits better with their lifestyle and commitments.

“They also want to feel energised and engaged at work, to keep learning and developing their skills, and to be part of a diverse and inclusive environment.

“Businesses have to convince staff that they genuinely offer all this. It’s a challenging time because the war for talent rages on. But it’s also an exciting time, as emerging trends shift to become the norm.”

Denholm Associates, headquartered in Leith, was founded in 2002, concentrating on executive search, recruitment and talent attraction for roles in sales, marketing, creative, data and digital communications.

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