Matt Southall, the person behind one of the UK’s most successful recruitment companies and one of Wales’ most recognised business brands Acorn Recruitment, has announced he is leaving his post as group managing director.

Matt founded Newport-headquartered Acorn in 1992, opening its first branch in his home city on Bridge Street.

Since then, it has gone from strength to strength, boasting some 60 different branches across the UK, Poland, Portugal and Australia, and currently attracting a combined annual turnover of around £180million.

It is estimated that over the years, Acorn has placed some 2.7million people into new jobs via temporary and permanent positions, cementing Acorn’s reputation as an important contributor to the economy.

Matt said: “It has been nearly 30 years since, with the kind support of three businessmen, initiated by the wonderful Bill Morris, that myself and co-founder Mike Mahoney opened that first branch of Acorn, and I have to say it has been an amazing adventure ever since.

“Together with some incredible colleagues, building the company from that one branch to the international business it is today makes me very proud – I’ve been so fortunate to have been joined on this journey by such a brilliant bunch of people.”

Acorn was the first business to appear in the Wales Fast Growth 50 listing for four years in succession, thereby becoming the first Welsh business to win the Excellence in Growth Award, and Matt was also the first recipient of the South Wales Argus Business Award’s Lifetime Achievement Award, in 2018.

Together with Acorn’s parent, the Synergie Group, Matt also set up Acorn Global and Synaco, subsidiaries of Acorn Recruitment Ltd., which now include eleven offices in every major city in Australia.

In 2016, Acorn sold its long-standing training and learning division to Cardiff & Vale College; during its time at Acorn, the business had achieved numerous awards for its apprenticeship programmes and had supported tens of thousands of young people; providing them with their first steps for their future careers.

Faithful to his beloved Newport, the city where Matt was born and raised, Acorn Recruitment sponsored Newport County AFC for 14 years; at the time becoming the third longest-running sponsorship in British football history.

Remaining true to his roots, Acorn relocated its head offices to Celtic Springs, just outside Newport. Acorn was the first business to invest in the site. The building was formally opened by Wales’ then First Minister Rhodri Morgan in 2002.

Acorn is a community-centred business, which has supported local causes in the communities where it is based, including becoming Wales’ first corporate partner for the NSPCC full stop appeal, the headline sponsor for the St David’s Hospice Care annual Dalmatian Ride, working closely with various homeless charities such as the Wallich, and the development of Wales’ first CEO Sleepout which raised £80,000 in one night.

Operations Director Andrew Tugwell now takes on the role of interim managing director.