The appointment of Chris Sutherland as chief executive of Perth-based labour hire company Integrated Group appears to have restored the market’s faith in the company.
Integrated’s stock has climbed from its 12-month lows of around $1.30 per share in February to reach almost $2 per share in recent trading, climbing above highs last reached in August last year.
After a period of review, Mr Sutherland has returned the business to its core – ditching loss-making enterprises such as training and the selling of boats, which were linked to its marine division.
He is starting to see where the company may turn to for growth – geographically and through existing business streams – as well as viewing the opportunities that might come from new industrial relations laws.
However, the first few months have been about stabilising the company and returning it to core business.
Rationalisation has occurred geographically with 48 branches slimmed down to 39 following the sale of training and the closure of duplicate facilities, as well as the opening of one new office.
Mr Sutherland, who joined from WorleyParsons, has also restructured his own management team, cutting down the number of direct reports from nine to six to create a flatter structure.
“We have pushed management closer to operations,” he said. “We can be more efficient and make decisions quicker.”
He said the firm wanted to focus on its core of recruitment, labour hire and managed labour services.
Integrated would look at expanding existing services, such as those in the trades and office personnel markets.
Opening operations in New Zealand was under consideration, Mr Sutherland said.
One area where Mr Sutherland has decided to put his stamp hard is in health, safety and environment, perhaps reflective of his engineering background working for big resources companies.
He has committed Integrated to a zero injuries policy, even though this was not particularly an area of concern when he took over. For instance, the company already rejects about 50 sites a year for safety reasons.
Mr Sutherland said it was more about reinforcing a mindset within the company reflecting that of bigger companies in strong sectors such as oil and gas – a key clientele for Integrated.
“It is obvious. We want our work-force to come home every night,” he said. “Clearly our clients want that.
“I think it can be a point of differentiation for us in such that we can help our clients achieve best practice in safety or, if you like, help our clients achieve zero injuries.”