Robert MacMillan, group chief executive and owner of HH Global – which has evolved from a £1m turnover domestic print brokerage to a global marketing execution services group with £380m sales under his leadership – shared his advice on achieving rapid international growth with founders and senior directors of Britain’s leading private mid-market growth companies
Founders and senior directors from a cross-section of Top Track 250 companies met at our pre-dinner roundtable to discuss opportunities for growth, led by James Brown, tax partner and head of growth, mid-corporate at Grant Thornton, the title sponsor of the league table.
James kicked off the discussion by challenging the guests to consider how they plan to “achieve growth” in the UK and overseas, and spoke to our camera about the opportunities his mid-corporate clients are seeing.
Robert MacMillan, group chief executive of HH Global, on driving overseas growth
James introduced Robert MacMillan, group chief executive and majority owner of HH Global, which provides marketing execution services globally for customers such as Google, WalMart and PepsiCo and employs more than 1,200 people across 44 countries.
In 2003, he led an MBO and after a decade of difficult trading the business took off in the US, working with the likes of Google. He has since grown it to sales of around £380m in the year to March 2019, with three-quarters generated overseas, and ebitda of £21m.
“You can look at many industries [such as print marketing] and say they are in decline, but there are many new industries that our helping us to grow and develop our business,” he said. “Today 75% of our profits are generated in North America. We find that Europe is more established, competitive market, but in North America and Asia our services remain a relatively new concept.”
Robert spoke to our camera about the opportunities he is seeing in Asia.
Robert said HH Global had a coup last year when Walmart selected it to produce its marketing materials in China. “We have been in China for 10 years and are now being told that salaries are reaching a tipping point where it makes sense to outsource.”
He added: “We have had to be patient and invest for the long term. We are in 44 markets and not all of them make money, but we found we had to be in all these markets in order grow with our clients.”
Addressing the issue of cybercrime, he said it was a live issue for HH Global as customers such as international banks and technology companies require their suppliers to have very robust systems. “It’s an area where we have to invest more and more,” he said.
Christopher Evans is joint chief executive of Collinson Group, which delivers benefits and loyalty initiatives to help companies attract and retain customers. Its brands include Priority Pass, which operates across 1,200 airport lounges, and travel insurance provider Columbus Direct. Christopher explained why he values discussing growth, challenges and opportunities with his peers from across diverse industries at Fast Track’s roundtable discussions.
More information on Top Track 250
For more information about the league table and events programme, see: https://www.fasttrack.co.uk/league-tables/top-track-250/
For opportunities to meet and build relationships with the founders and directors of these mid-market growth companies, see: https://www.fasttrack.co.uk/league-tables/top-track-250/sponsorship/