Rich List 2012: No.29 - Richard Harpin (£210m)
When disaster strikes it’s not the catastrophe itself by which a company is measured. It is the way it responds.
Such was the case with Richard Harpin’s HomeServe. The Walsall-based home maintenance and insurance firm lost more than £450 million off its share value in November when it suspended its telesales activities following an independent inquiry into selling practices. The review, by accountant Deloitte found cases where sales processes did not meet required standards.
HomeServe reacted quickly, suspending calls and launching into a retraining process for almost 500 call centre staff. Sales scripts were rewritten. Business-generated calls were also suspended. By reacting quickly HomeServe preserved its reputation pretty much intact, and costs relating to the issue failed to dent profits.
In its interim results up to September 2010 HomeServe reported a 25 per cent rise in revenue from £171 million to £213 million, with a an adjusted profit before tax of £23.5 million – up 10 per cent. Debt has reduced from £61,5 million to £36.6 million.
Meanwhile HomeServe continues to expand, creating new jobs at its Walsall base, which employs around 1,800 people, and expanding its US operations.
Despite selling five per cent of his stake in the company in 2010, reaping a reported £66 million, Mr Harpin is still a significant shareholder with 12 per cent of the issued share capital. He remains chief executive at HomeServe and still commutes from his home in North Yorkshire, getting up at 5am to make sure he gets a swimming session in before starting work before 9am.