Ep 7 – Lugera’s Gerard Koolen: Meet the Maverick of Recruitment M&As

Recruitment Transactions International is the first global matching platform for buyers, investors, and sellers in the recruitment and staffing industry.  Our seventh podcast comes out of the left field as RTI Managing Partner Simon Childs talks shop with the enigmatic entrepreneur, Gerard Koolen, Group Managing Partner of Lugera.  In this episode, Gerard shares his experiences as an entrepreneur who has built a powerhouse portfolio of brands in a challenging region that includes Russia and Ukraine.

Gerard co-founded Lugera in 1996 in Trencin, Slovakia. The idea was to build a great staffing agency and help as many people as possible with better jobs.  The company now has more than 400 employees across 33 offices in 11 countries.  In addition to Ukraine, it is in the United Kingdom, Armenia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark in the Netherlands, Romania, Morocco, and Slovakia. In 2014, as part of the international expansion of Lugera, it acquired GIT in the Czech Republic, and at the end of 2016, Adecco Ukraine and Adecco Russia. In 2019, Adecco Morocco also joined the Lugera family.

Key Talking Points:

[00:20] Introduction

[01:30] How did you get started in recruitment and grow out of Slovakia in the Czech Republic, Croatia, and Poland?

– Biggest mistakes and failures, and turning them around

[07:47] How did you become the biggest in Romania?

[09:30] How big is the business now and how is Lugera structured there?

[10:20] Starting the journey to acquiring businesses and making them profitable

The first M&A (Emprasario – GIT in Czech Republic)

[11:51] How did you get GIT to profitability and what does this business look like today?

[17:27] How are things between your Kiev and Moscow offices?  

[20:53] How did you turn the business around in this market that you didn’t know that well?

[29:30] Tell us about developing your own STAA (state-of-the-art) HR Tech.  How are you using it?

[35:50] Involvement with James Caan’s Recruitment Entrepreneur – How is that going?  

[39:45] What are you seeing in your region as a market for recruitment entrepreneurs?

[43:08] You’re involved in just about anything related to recruitment.  What do you do outside of recruitment?

Watch the Highlights: Weathering Tough Times (1.5 mins)


Watch the Highlights: Partnership with Recruitment Entrepreneur (7.5 mins)