In the Hot Seat: John Sylvester, P&MM director

The P&MM director tells Pip Brooking why growth is at the top of the agenda.

Performance and motivation specialist P&MM has made its ambitions clear this year. It's made moves to list on AIM, the London Stock Exchange for smaller companies; it bought risk management firm Fotorama in July; and further acquisitions are in the pipeline.

It's no surprise that director John Sylvester is keeping a level head in a world where "business strategy is king".

He is the first to admit the business was "lacklustre two years ago".

But since then P&MM's board of directors, of which Sylvester is one of four, has overseen substantial growth in the company's profits, from £200,000 in 2001 to £1.1 million in 2003. Now it wants to fuel that organic growth with "other specific big opportunities that come along".

Listing is one of them, and Sylvester sees a float as one way to give P&MM more firepower. As P&I went to press, the hope was to see it up and running as a plc on 25 August. The extra capital raised will enable P&MM to spur on its "firm acquisition plan" to build on the Fotorama purchase.

For Sylvester, the buy was an obvious step. P&MM has done a lot of work with Fotorama, and its specialism in the promotional merchandise field adds a more rounded dimension to P&MM's own SP offering, which until now has been based in travel and leisure. He says making changes to the "respected brand" is not on the agenda.

Other acquisitions are likely to follow the same pattern. P&MM has a checklist of characteristics it looks for, and a hitlist of businesses it's been in discussion with over the past year. "Markets we want to really accelerate our growth in and businesses with strength in those markets will interest us," Sylvester hints. And rather than aggressive takeovers, the firm is looking for a "meeting of minds", for businesses that want to be part of something bigger.

The expansion plan is focused and has clearly been bashed about in the boardroom by four heads. When the four began operating without a managing director or a chief executive, some commentators gave them six months - if after that they were still talking to each other, went the whispers, then they would probably be being making a success of it.

"Two years on, we're all still talking," states Sylvester. The way the business is growing, he adds, an MD might yet be needed.

CV

1995-present Director, P&MM

1989-1995 Account director, P&MM

1987-1989 Account director, Grass Roots Group

1984-1987 Account executive, Grass Roots Group

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