A company in Bedfordshire, which recruits construction professionals across the globe, has established a new business partnership in China using help from UK Trade and Investment and the China-Britain Business Council.
PRS Executive Search in Sandy was established over 20 years ago by founder and MD David Knowles and has five staff.
Its reach has stretched across the world, providing recruitment services to companies predominantly in Middle and Far East markets for many years. Over the past eight years PRS has worked closely with UKTI to extend its reach to new markets in the Asia Pacific region including Japan, Australia, South Korea and China.
This has been carried out using UKTI’s Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS), to help the company visit and explore business opportunities in these markets.
Knowles said: “Having worked in the international construction industry and travelled the world extensively over the past 30 years it has always been my goal for PRS to become a global operation. I contacted my local Chamber of Commerce nine years ago to find out more about government support available to small exporting companies like PRS and they put me in touch with UKTI.
“Since then I’ve learnt crucial information about markets PRS planned to target including the Middle East, Japan and China. Whilst some of these ventures were not successful, the time, effort and money saved in finding this out, using the support of UKTI, have been vitally important to the business.”
More recently Knowles has worked closely with UKTI international trade adviser Martin Keepfer, commissioning an OMIS in China, which was completed in March. This led to a number of meetings, set up by the China Britain Business Council, which he carried out with potential contractors in Chongqing and Shanghai. However, the journey to success in China, explains Knowles, has been a long one. “It became clear during my meeting in Chongqing that the contractors I was speaking with required staff and services from PRS that would be difficult to provide. In particular, the salary levels being offered in China were way below acceptable UK levels.
Unfortunately, this meant negotiation came to a halt.”
However, all was not lost. Through these meetings David met the chairman and senior management team from RHS, a major Chinese Eco Friendly Urban and Rural Planning/Design consultancy. RHS focuses on a range of business streams broadly involved in urban planning, architecture, landscape and tourism.
Together with HR Associates Ltd, a management training company based in Hong Kong, PRS will form a joint venture with RHS to create a sustainable and fast expanding training environment for urban designers with top management ambitions and clear potential leadership ability.
Knowles said: “Having just returned from Chongqing in March and again this month I’m happy to confirm that we have agreed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together. It has great implications for the future of PRS and our overall presence in Asia.
“Our persistence and support received from UKTI and CBBC have really paid off. I’m delighted with this result. RHS believes that the British lead the World in eco friendly design concepts and the expansion of China’s urban built environment will benefit greatly from having joint ventures with British professionals engaged in sustainable developments.”
Knowles plans to commission further research from UKTI using the Export Marketing Research Scheme to look at business opportunities in Singapore and Malaysia.
This follows on from a UKTI organised Asia export event in Newmarket, which PRS attended in February 2011 where Knowles met the trade consuls from Singapore and Malaysia. The event, led by a taskforce of experts from the Far East, focused on a wide variety of sectors in Asia where there are growing opportunities for local companies.
Martin Keepfer from UKTI said: “PRS Executive Search is an excellent British company which approaches new export markets in a way that is patient, yet effective. It is particularly important to take this approach when targeting markets like China.”
• Photograph shows: PRS Executive Search founder and MD, David Knowles