Tech boom pushes turnover to record high at Edinburgh HR specialist

Purpose HRs CEO Lisa Thomson and new board adviser Gary Deans. Picture: Stewart AttwoodPurpose HRs CEO Lisa Thomson and new board adviser Gary Deans. Picture: Stewart Attwood
Purpose HRs CEO Lisa Thomson and new board adviser Gary Deans. Picture: Stewart Attwood | other
An Edinburgh-based HR ­specialist is forecasting record annual revenues thanks to Scotland’s thriving tech sector.

Purpose HR is anticipating annual turnover will exceed £500,000 in the 12 months to the end of March, after expanding its client base at home and overseas ­during 2019, as well as upping ­headcount.

The business secured its first engagements outside the UK last year and its pipeline of planned activity in 2020 includes further international growth.

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Purpose HR provides ­commercial human resources advice and practical ­support to early-stage and high-growth investor-backed businesses including start-ups working in the technology, engineering and life sciences sectors.

Client wins during the past year have included Neatebox, Speech Graphics (named ­Startup of the Year at the Scottish Tech Startup Awards 2019), MiAlgae, Platinum Informatics, ALP and FlexMedical. This adds to a ­customer base that already featured Cyan Forensics, Aridhia, Fios Genomics, Calcivis, PowerPhotonic and xDesign.

Lisa Thomson, founder and chief executive of Purpose HR, also cited continued employer challenges, such as the ongoing skills gap and difficulties in retaining employees, as ­driving the business forward.

She said: “Scotland continues to be a hotbed for start-ups and innovation and we’ve seen that positively impact the business over the last twelve months.

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“At the same time, there remain challenges in attracting and retaining talent, ­and ongoing uncertainty around Brexit and that has led to more companies recognising the value of investing in a strong, inclusive employer brand approach.

“While Scotland remains our primary focus, we’ve definitely got one eye on UK-wide and international expansion opportunities.”

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Addition of ex-KPMG partner

Purpose HR has also appointed Gary Deans, a former KPMG partner, as board adviser. Deans brings more than 35 years of experience in advising privately-held businesses and his remit at the HR specialist will include helping to shape business strategy and identify areas for growth.

He established Glasgow-headquartered advisory group Strathblair Associates in 2016 and is a director of Halo Kilmarnock, Indinature and social enterprise Freedom Bakery. He was appointed chairman of Falkirk FC in December.

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Thomson said: “Gary brings expertise of running a consultancy business at scale and his financial expertise and track record supporting high growth businesses, in addition to his focus on values and ethos, are well aligned to our purpose-driven approach.”

Deans added: “The business has established a strong brand and reputation in the tech, engineering and life sciences sectors with a focus on delivering excellent service.

“It is an exciting time and I am looking forward to being part of Purpose HR’s vision and supporting the business with its continuing growth.”

Thomson, who worked at Wolfson Microelectronics in the lead up to its acquisition by Cirrus Logic in 2014, is a former Scotland director for Startup Grind and is also an ambassador for Women’s Enterprise Scotland.