Eurosceptic Hew Balfour grows Europa

Self-proclaimed eurosceptic Hew Balfour – a prominent supporter of the ‘vote no’ campaign against the European Constitution – is driving a disciplined revival at aptly named Havelock Europa, the Scottish shops-to-schools outfitter.

Balfour, a former Scots Guards officer and the sixth generation of his family to join the armed forces, previously served with property development and construction firm Miller Group, as well as rat-catcher Rentokil.

Under his instruction last year, Havelock Europa scored sales of more than £100 million, with pre-tax profits surging 49 per cent north to £6 million.

Balfour drove strong performances from two of the group’s three divisions, among them retail interiors, where clients include Primark, HBOS and Marks & Spencer, and the point of sale display division.

The relative black sheep was the Education Furniture and Supplies arm, which posted lower profits due to a temporary lull in PFI/PPP school refurbishment schemes. This division is gearing up for a predicted increase in business in this area this year and next.

Havelock’s 2005 performance marked a continuation in the revival of the group’s fortunes over recent years, thanks to a stricter focus on high-margin work twinned with acquisitions.

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James Crux

James was editor of Growth Company Investor as well as writing for our sister titles What Investment and Business XL, before moving on to be an editor at Shares Magazine in 2011.

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