Undeterred by the trials and tribulations that assailed his previous recruitment empire, Mr Blue Arrow Tony Berry is now running another employment services company, Recruit, which he bought for £1 million in 1994, with backing from ADT chief Michael Ashcroft.
Recruit, which had 13 branches at the time Berry acquired it, now has around 35, and Berry has been very keen to float it as soon as possible - although observers argue that profit levels are still far too low to support the exercise. Berry's managing director, Jim Clarke, similarly expressed doubts about the timing of a flotation, only to leave the company a year ago. Berry is reported to have wanted faster profits growth to enable a fast flotation, while Clarke wanted a development path that meant different job sectors being handled by different branches.
It appears that all has not been harmonious with Ashcroft either: Berry pledged his shares in Tottenham Hotspur football club - where he is deputy chairman - as security to Ashcroft back in 1994. The shares were held by a Belize-registered company, Tony Berry Inc, whose 'agent' Ashcroft is. Mystery was rife back in the summer when 275,000 of Berry's 290,000 Spurs shares were sold by Tony Berry Inc at a price of 471p, netting a handsome total of £1.3 million. At first, the obvious perception was that Berry had sold the shares, an assumption he immediately contradicted, following up with a writ against the Belize company. The price of Spurs shares was just 80p when Ashcroft made the original loan to Berry, and the basis of the writ was that Tony Berry Inc had made an excess profit on the stake, particularly given its shares in Recruit.