Send For Help – the largest lone worker protection firm in the world – has seen annual turnover break £8m for the first time – a rise of 30% on the previous year – as organisations across both private and public sectors increasingly seek ways to protect their employees using state of the art technology.
The business was founded in 2010 by brothers James and Will Murray. It operates three subsidiary brands; Skyguard, Guardian24 and Peoplesafe – a competitor owned by Rocksure Systems, which the Group acquired in June in a deal worth £10m. The subsidiaries protect more than 100,000 people through key-fob sized GPS safety devices and apps, which are linked to an alarm receiving centre staffed at the company’s headquarters in Epsom, Surrey.
New accounts show turnover this year hit £8m – up from £6.1m last year, with profits of £2.4m – an increase of 121% on the previous year.
“We have seen demand for our services rise for a variety of reasons. Organisations want to protect their staff. But we also live in an increasingly litigious world, and the public and private sectors are becoming more savvy in protection of lone workers”, said James Murray, CEO of Send For Help.
“Our technology is affordable and easy to use. Companies recognise the advantages of personnel protection when they look at the implications of legal costs and compensation as well as bad publicity if someone gets injured or assaulted,” he added.
“Others have turned on the news over the last few months and seen events both at home and abroad which inevitably heightens awareness of safety and security. We live in uncertain times, and this has seen a number of prospective clients cement their decision to use our service,” said Murray.
Sectors using Send For Help are diverse. Clients include Pets at Home, Talk Talk and the NHS, and also leading estate agencies that want staff to have peace of mind when showing clients around properties. Major pub chains seeking to protect bar staff who might be open to abuse or assault are increasingly using the service, as are traffic wardens and other local authority personnel.
Send For Help is also used by 150 local authorities and 200 housing associations, and over half of police forces in the UK use the technology to safeguard victims of sexual or domestic violence, and people on witness protection programmes.
The company has direct links to police control rooms, so can bypass the 999 system and receive a faster emergency response if someone has been threatened, attacked or are in danger. Once the “SOS alarm’ button on the device is pressed, a user can speak via a two-way audio in the device to a controller at Send For Help’s fortified alarm receiving centre, who will decide the appropriate action – whether that’s calling an ambulance, alerting the police, asking the worker’s supervisor to check in on them, or simply to confirm it’s a false alarm.
The device sends its GPS location to the monitoring centre which utilises mapping software, the operators can direct help to where it’s needed – even if they are on the move. Staff are trained and have to sit exams before they can answer calls. Clients typically pay a £10 monthly fee for each device.
Technology runs in the Murray brothers’ blood. Their father Jan – who is the company’s President – founded PC World in 1991, and exited his second venture – Internet Technology Group (ITG) – for $250m, just weeks before the dot.com bubble burst in 2000.
Their Polish grandfather escaped to Britain from a prisoner-of-war camp in Germany during World War Two, and set up REW, a chain of retailers selling electrical goods across London including Tottenham Court Road.
The lone worker protection market in Europe and America is forecast to double from £105 million per annum to £226 million by 2021, according to recent research by analysts Berg Insight.