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Our strategy pillars of internationalising our business, building our multi channel strength and forging real partnerships with both our clients and candidates has continued at pace in the early weeks of 2014.

This was particularly evidenced by the opening of our third international office in Dubai which is now integrated with our offices in Johannesburg and Istanbul and of course our London base.

We are therefore delighted to welcome Tim Fagan to the HGA Group. Tim will be our Managing Director in Dubai covering the Middle East and North Africa markets, bringing with him extensive retail experience in the region and in particular in the premium and luxury sectors.

Once again it has been Harveen’s pioneering spirit and focused determination to position the business around these strategy pillars that has stood out in this recent office opening and launch.

Soon we will also be adding the highest bravery awards to her list of accolades as the office has won our first piece of business, supporting Turkish fashion multiple, LCC Waikiki, with their expansion in Iraq.

Intriguingly, one of the main reasons behind the international expansion we are seeing is the core strength and demand for our UK based retailing, buying, merchandising and e-commerce skills and experience. We are effectively exporting these qualities and capabilities to new markets whether they be developed or emerging.

The message therefore is that we must also be part of a strong home market and in that context it was very encouraging to see a series of recent reports pointing to increased activity in the consumer service sector.

The CBI is reporting business optimism growing at the fastest rate since 1998, business volumes growing at the quickest pace since 2005 and increased capital spending in the next 12 months.

All good news both in terms of the general mood as well as the commercial realities of retailing.

Finally a very big thank you to all our clients and candidates for your continued support and I look forward to seeing some of you again at our Chairman’s Dinner later next month.

Greg Tufnell

HGA Group Chairman