Cyril Sweett boss Dean Webster on the firm’s plans for international growth
Dean Webster has had a busy couple of years. The chief executive of consultant Cyril Sweett admits that just three years ago he was still unsure of what he wanted out of his career. Now he is leading one of the UK’s biggest QSs towards its turnover target of £100m within four years and is finalising plans to establish its first international offices in the new year.
“Looking back just two or three years, I’m pleased at achieving what I have done,” he says.
Last week, Cyril Sweett released a healthy set of annual results and announced plans to expand to the Middle East in the new year and to India in April.
Offices will be set up in these areas and, if all goes well, further expansion is in the pipeline.
On the company’s current position, Webster admits that, although the results look good (see box below), it is the international growth that is the real big news for Cyril Sweett.
“The market in general is good and so everyone in our peer group should be producing good results,” he says. “In terms of achieving growth, I’ve made no secret that I want to make the company an international player. I want to see that delivered.”
Operating on a wider basis should start creating some mainstream revenue abroad and Webster hopes the company’s overseas businesses will eventually bring in £15m.
Only a fool would say they’ve got it all sorted and it’s definitely going to be okay
The group will work as part of a joint venture out in Dubai with consultant DG Jones and Partners. The companies already have strong links and DG Jones’ roots and contacts should make the bedding down process easier for Cyril Sweett.
Webster is confident the company has a good chance of succeeding abroad and says only the best people will be heading the new offices. Richard Kingston, currently the director of Middle East operations, will be director of the Dubai office, leading a team of about eight staff. The director of the India office, which will hope to capitalise on the country’s growing retail market, has yet to be announced.
Webster adds that despite having confidence in the global strategy, he will still be keeping a close eye on the process. “Only a fool would say they’ve got it all sorted and it’s definitely going to be okay,” he says.
As well as its expansion plans, Cyril Sweett will be concentrating on training next year – something that Webster feels needs better organisation.
“If someone asked for sponsorship for training I’d be happy to do that, but we need to be more structured about it.
“There are too few leaders in this industry,” he says. “It’s not as sexy as some other industries and so it’s not attracting the best people. More support for young people would make the profession more attractive.”
As Cyril Sweett prepares for a period of growth, Webster says he plans to stick around and see the strategy through: “I’ve only been in in this role since January 2005 and from that perspective I think there is a lot more to be done. I’m not planning on going anywhere yet.”