Ian Simpson and Paul Johnson founded EC International in 1991 as a recruitment consultancy for a broad range of information technology (IT) staff. But in 1995 they realised that few companies offered headhunting services for executives on salaries of between £50,000 and £100,000, so they refocused the business on this area. Finding demand and margins strong, they then expanded beyond IT staff and began placing experts in telecommunications, e-commerce, investment banking, sport and entertainment. They also established a research unit to track companies and individuals within these six industries. Together with a new contracts division and one that specialises in placing postgraduate students, these moves have driven up sales 122% a year, from £486,000 in 1996 to £5.3m in 1999.
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