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Protector Group set for expansion after Lord Stevens buys more shares

Security company Protector Group is on the verge of a major expansion after former Metropolitan and Northumbria Police chief Lord Stevens took a controlling interest in the firm.

The former top policeman is aiming to turn the Gateshead group into a major international brand after upping his stake by buying shares from company founder John Harvey.

It means Newcastle-based Mercer Street Marketing and Consulting, set up by Lord Stevens and the late Freddie Fletcher, the former chief executive of Newcastle United, now has a 57.5% share in the company.

Lord Stevens is already chairman of the group and will take a more hands-on approach together with managing director Derrick Halliwell.

Halliwell said: “They’ve pretty much swapped over so Lord Stevens can be the biggest shareholder. He’s not a person for failure. He’s put his line in the sand.”

The business has been buoyed by the success of its security equipment being used at the equestrian events at last year’s London Olympics and its work with horse sports’ ruling body, the FEI.

Protector, which has a turnover of around £7m and employs 220 staff, is now looking to build upon this and Lord Stevens’ contacts to win consultancy work abroad.

Lord Stevens said: “Our goal is now to establish ourselves as a leading UK security brand.

“With offices in London, Manchester and Scotland we have a nationwide reach and our aim is to use these bases to facilitate our expansion through acquisitions.

“Further afield, we are currently in talks with various parties in relation to security contracts in the Middle East and the USA as we aim to establish ourselves as a truly international brand.”

That will include looking at potential acquisitions and expanding into consultancy work.

Halliwell said: “Lord Stevens and I are now working more closely and taking a long-term, strategic look at the direction of the business, both operationally and geographically.”

The business, which develops electronic security equipment supported by remote monitoring and also has trained security personnel, has also invested in its Team Valley base.

“We’ve had a massive upgrade of our control room which has been there for 10 years,” said Halliwell.

“We have upgraded all our software and we have spent around £100,000 on the office. That’s nothing compared to some companies but we have put a lot in and have room for expansion.

“We probably use only about 10% of what we could do. We want to be a hub of excellence.”

He said the expansion would “without a shadow of a doubt” include new jobs.

“The Forces are making 5,000 people redundant; it’s horrible but it’s great for us because there is going to be an abundance of quality talent out there for us,” he said.

“Catterick is 60 miles down the road and we can go and interview from there. There is tons and tons of work out there.”

The business is also looking at protecting ‘high-worth individuals’ locally, such as footballers, from both a physical point of view and via technological surveillance.

Halliwell added: “People want to know they are secure and we can offer discreet personal protection and remote monitoring to ensure personal and domestic security with complete confidence.”