John French tends to laugh off various descriptions of himself as a serial entrepreneur or even a corporate rottweiler. Nevertheless, for the last 20 years he has spent much of his time working with small companies, often as a founder and occasionally as a turnaround trouble-shooter. With nearly 50 years of experience on hand to guide the management teams he works with, French is a man well versed and well supported when it comes to picking winners.
Among his highest profile projects of the past, French has been involved with quoted companies including Air Music & Media (now MBL (LON:MUBL)), Croma (LON:CMG) and Avanti Screenmedia. He currently chairs PLUS-listed Sutherland Health Group and has just emerged from two years spent re-focusing and refinancing AIM listed insurance support services company, Resources In Insurance (LON:RIIG) – a business that he originally floated on AIM as The Claims People back in October 2000.
The Claims People changed its name to Resources in Insurance in April 2008 in a move that reflected its growing focus on services that support insurance companies. However, the name change failed to fix an unsettled management team and concerns about the wider direction of the group. Those concerns trigged a decision by French in the summer of 2008 to set aside his hands-off, non-executive role and take the lead in reinvigorating the company.
In two and a half years, French has streamlined the service offering and focused on core products for insurers. The company’s flagship i-Team service offers in-sourced and outsourced claims handling solutions to insurance companies to help them deal with periods when they are under-resourced either because of staff shortages, backlogs of unexpected claims surges. A new service called Verify takes that support a stage further by providing outsourced field investigation services to check the validity of insurance claims. Finally, its latest offering is called Surety, which is a credit hire service that provides independent auditing and training services to motor insurance groups.
Having crystallised the Resources in Insurance service offering, cleared its debt and brought in high profile investment support from the likes of Rob Mitchell at Bluehone Investors and serial investor Bob Morton, the irrepressible French is clearly a happy man. He believes that 2010 will be the last of the…