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November 25, 2015

DHR’s disappearing offices

DHR International have long claimed they are “#1 in geographic coverage".  At various times over the last few years, they have trumpeted that they have “over 40”, “over 50”, “more than 60” or even “more than 70”… “locations providing global executive search service across Asia, Europe, North America, and South America”.

On the front page of their web site as of November 25, 2015: they claim "more than 60 offices around the globe".

Contrast this "more than 60" with the 56 locations on their website as at the same date. This includes Philadelphia, which is listed as an office but has no physical address, plus some offices with no permanent residents
We thought it might be interesting to work out the locations where DHR used to operate offices but no longer appear to do so. So far, we have been able to find 76 former offices, which is more than DHR currently list as operating offices.

This may be useful information for prospective clients, recruits and acquisition targets, as it tends to suggest that DHR may open and close offices fairly readily.

This list:
  • contains offices that DHR have previously listed on their web site or other marketing materials;
  • may not be complete—we welcome additions;
  • excludes offices that DHR no longer list on their web site, although they may still own or lease premises in these markets;
  • excludes current offices that have no address or no permanent residents;
  • excludes markets where DHR opened, closed and reopened offices, such as London and Paris;
  • excludes Jobplex; and
  • may include offices where DHR have changed the names they use to describe the office, or moved the office to an adjacent town, but were previously listed under a different name. 
As always, DHR or anyone are welcome to contact us at unofficial.dhr(at) with any corrections or additions.

Asia Pacific

St. Albans

Middle East & Africa

North America
Ann Arbor
Austin (Barton Oaks)—ran as a separate, simultaneous Austin office and labelled as such
Boca Raton
Delray Beach
Foster City (Silicon Valley)
Ft Myer
Garden City
Irvine/Orange County
Kansas City
Laguna Niguel
Martha’s Vineyard
Pebble Beach
Redwood City (Silicon Valley)
Salt Lake City
San Antonio
San Diego
Santa Clara
Short Hills
Vero Beach

Latin America
Buenos Aires


November 6, 2015

DHR International in the United Kingdom: the story

Update November 6, 2015: includes details of the Gundersen "acquisition" (taking the number of incarnations of DHR in the UK to at least 5 in 15 years) and the second coming of Jobplex UK.

This is the second in our continuing series about DHR International’s operations around the world. The aim – as always – is to ensure that prospective recruits considering joining DHR International; acquisition targets being pursued by DHR, or indeed clients considering using DHR, all have ready access to publicly available information to enable them to undertake a proper due diligence as part of their decision-making.

By reason of the facts, matters and circumstances referred to below, it would appear that DHR International has a history of entering and exiting the UK market; incorporating entities only to have them compulsorily dissolved by the corporate regulator; repeatedly moving offices, and churning through consultants.

It is hard to run a loss-making executive search business, particularly under a remuneration model such as DHR’s, where the preference is to hire consultants on commission that is only paid after the client pays the search firm. The DHR model should leave each DHR entity with a significant margin but this might be whittled away by the DHR entity entering into arrangements whereby it owes significant sums to other DHR entities. DHR typically refers to these as “overhead fees”.

Also, again by reason of the facts, matters and circumstances referred to below, there are questions to be asked about the viability of DHR’s current UK incarnation, DHR Global Limited, as it:
  1. has made a loss for three out of its four years of operation;
  2. as at 31 December 2014, had total assets less current liabilities (or cumulative shareholders’ funds) of negative GB£414,795 (on a turnover of just GB£654,808);
  3. appears to be an “orphan”, as it was 100% owned by an Illinois-based entity, which was subject to an “involuntary dissolution” in April, 2015;
  4. owes GB£619,720 (or a net GB£512,832) to other members of the DHR International group; and
  5. is or was possibly being investigated by the UK Government “for not having paid redundancy costs” (this is based on a statement by a DHR senior consultant that “the UK government employment agency were considering suing DHR at an industrial tribunal for not having paid redundancy costs to CT Partners who were not offered to join DHR”; indeed, the DHR senior consultant even indicated “that this could ultimately impact DHR’s ability to trade in the UK”). 
DHR UK Mark 1: DHR International Limited (office 1)

DHR International first incorporated an entity in the United Kingdom on June 22, 2000, called “DHR International Limited“. It is clear from the Memorandum of Association that it was set up as an executive search firm. An American DHR consultant, Stephen Leo, served as Vice President of International Development and relocated to London. There may have been other consultants too, but we have not yet found their details given the Internet was in its relative infancy at the time and DHR’s web site only launched in February 2001.

However, on April 9, 2002 (less than two years later after incorporation), the UK corporate regulator dissolved the company via a compulsory strike-off because DHR International Limited did not comply with the regulatory requirements. It seems DHR’s first UK entry disappeared without a trace before its second birthday. This compulsory strike-off is the first of a continuing series through to this year.

DHR UK Mark 2: DHR International UK Limited (offices 2 through 5)
Jobplex Mark 1: Jobplex UK Limited

Less than four years later after the compulsory dissolution of its first UK subsidiary, on February 1, 2006, DHR incorporated another entity in the UK, this time called “DHR International UK Limited“ (the difference being the insertion of the word “UK”). An Illinois company, DHR International Europe LLC, served as Director from incorporation until January 30, 2007 when it was replaced by another Illinois company, DHR UK LLC. At the time, UK corporate law allowed companies to serve as Directors of other companies. That changed in 2008, and now all companies must have at least one natural person as a director. But, at the time, DHR International UK Limited had no natural persons as directors. However, current DHR CEO, Geoff Hoffmann, served as Secretary from incorporation. Returns to the regulator show that DHR UK LLC was the shareholder.

By early 2006, DHR claimed to be operating an office at 1 Berkeley Street, London. The web site at the time listed four consultants (Thomas Acuff, John Largent, Claudia Münster and Ronald Wintzéus), but it appears they were based in Brussels, which was DHR’s then European headquarters. These four left DHR not long thereafter.

By mid-2006, DHR set up another office at 1 Northumberland Avenue, Trafalgar Square, with a new Managing Director Europe. We have not included the name of the MD Europe as he emailed us in September, 2015 to say “I would appreciate my name being removed from the list [on former DHR consultants] - I was only an external consultant, self employed, but they listed my title as MD Europe.” As well as DHR’s web site from the time, a newsletter dated Fall 2006 from DHR Executive Vice President, Scott Harris, refers to this individual as Managing Director, Europe for DHR.

This Managing Director was joined by Victoria Stead, an Executive Vice President, who was employed between July 2006 and October 2007 and – for an even shorter time – David Barone. Around this time, DHR moved to London office number four at 83 Blackfriars Road.

The UK-based Managing Director, Europe had left DHR by June 2007 (about a year later) and another EVP joined, Neil Smith, and he became Managing Director, United Kingdom between around April 2007 and July 2008. Anthony (Tony) Haley joined as President, Europe of Jobplex between April 2006 and January 2008 but says he was also “the Headhunter on strategic searches for DHR, the parent company”. Along with Smith, Haley was listed on the DHR web site as one of two consultants with DHR London. Rob McLeod worked for a short time as an EVP within Jobplex in the same office.

The European Headquarters moved to 33 St. James’s Square, London (office #5). By late 2008, with no consultants apparently left, London was replaced by Frankfurt as the European Headquarters. (Today, the DHR European Headquarters are in city number (at least) four, Amsterdam.)

Like DHR International Limited before it, DHR International UK Limited was subject to compulsory strike-off notices in February and October, 2009 and then dissolved by the UK corporate regulator through a compulsory strike-off on January 26, 2010. The first US entity that served as a Director, DHR International Europe LLC, was subject to an “involuntary dissolution” in Illinois on February 14, 2014 (long after the UK entity was struck off), but DHR UK LLC is still “active” today.

DHR also established its Jobplex subsidiary in the UK on April 27, 2007, called "Jobplex UK Limited". David Hoffmann was appointed Director on May 24, 2007 and Geoff Hoffmann as Director and Secretary on the same date. Like most other DHR entities in the UK, Jobplex UK Limited was dissolved via a compulsory strike-off from the UK corporate regulator. In Jobplex UK’s case, this was on May 12, 2009.

DHR UK Mark 3 (office 6)

By 2010, DHR started to list its (at least) third incarnation in London and (at least) sixth office, this time at 16 Hanover Square, Mayfair. However, the only two consultants were US-based: Geoff Hoffmann and Gayle Mattson. It is not clear whether DHR incorporated an entity this time.

DHR UK Mark 4 (office 7)

In May 2010, DHR put out a media release "to announce the acquisition of Gundersen Partners, a global executive search firm". The media release noted that, "Sarah Thewlis joins DHR’s London office as Managing Director and Executive Vice President; Robert Graham joins DHR’s London office as Executive Vice President; … John Shaw and Christine Thomas join our London office as Principals; and Michelle Chapman and Edwina Purcell join as Administrative Assistants in London." The media release was picked up by Hunt-Scanlon and Search-Consult.

The media release did not last long on DHR's web site, nor did the team of six who joined in London. By December 2010, a voluntary administrator was appointed to Gundersen Partners Limited. Despite the unambiguous media release in which DHR claimed to have acquired Gundersen, it is not clear the UK acquisition was ever completed. Gundersen Partners Limited was dissolved by compulsory strike-off on October 4, 2013.

DHR UK Mark 5: DHR Global Limited (offices 8 and 9)
Jobplex Mark 2: Jobplex Limited

Then, in November 2010 via a press release, DHR “open[ed] a new office in London” at 40 Grosvenor Gardens (without referring to the at least seven earlier offices). DHR hired Simon Mansfield JP as Managing Director, UK, a role he has been in since (with some other co-Managing Directors and Managing Partners along the way, most of whom have come and gone). Paul Bulteel joined the London office in January 2012, but left by September 2013.

For this incarnation, DHR International operated out of yet another new entity, DHR Global Limited, which was incorporated on October, 19 2010 (less than nine months after the compulsory strike-off of DHR International UK Limited). By this time, the UK law required at least one natural director, and so David Hoffmann was appointed as sole Director. Curiously, his occupation was listed as “None”. The company had one shareholder, DHR Global LLC, an Illinois registered company (but, as detailed below, this company has been compulsory dissolved). David Hoffmann resolved on December 13, 2010 that DHR Global Limited change its name to “DHR International Limited”, yet the company is still registered today as “DHR Global Limited”. We are not sure why, but perhaps the regulator didn’t allow the entity to have the same name as DHR’s former struck-off entity.

A year later, in November 2011, DHR acquired life sciences firm, Barrett Webb Limited through Hoffmann Acquisition Limited (an entity 100% owned by DHR Global Limited).
David Hoffmann became a Director of Barrett Webb on December 21, 2011. Barrett Webb too was subject to compulsory strike-off action in 2013 and 2014, and it became the third DHR UK-based subsidiary to be dissolved by compulsory strike-off on June 10, 2014.

Similarly, Hoffmann Acquisition Limited, which was incorporated on September 20, 2011, received compulsory strike-off notices in 2013 and 2015 and, like its subsidiary, it was dissolved by compulsory strike-off on April 28, 2015 (strike-off #4). David Hoffmann was also the sole Director of this entity.
Barrett Webb’s Sue Rossiter, Jeffrey Webb and Ruth Stone joined DHR, but – for a while – worked out of a separate office (UK office #9) in St Albans. Rossiter and Webb are still with DHR, but Stone left within a year by October 2012.

DHR also acquired another firm, Veni Partners LLP, in February 2015. John Purkiss left within weeks, since followed by Thomas Drewry (Advisor), leaving Stéphane Rambosson, Anna Marietta and Michaela Rosbrook at DHR London. We are not sure in which jurisdiction(s) Veni Partners LLP existed, but note that the original French “Veni Partners LLP” was dissolved in its first year in October 2011.

On November 6, 2015, DHR posted a media release on its web site heralding "DHR International is launching its Jobplex brand in the UK". If DHR wanted to be truly accurate, they would describe this as "re-launching" as Jobplex previously operated in the UK. "The London-based team will be led by Nick Parry, who has responsibility for establishing the Jobplex brand in the UK and Europe." The media release goes on to quote Parry and Justin Hirsch who imply this is the first time Jobplex has operated in the UK and Europe, despite the evidence to the contrary.

DHR established a new entity in the UK called "Jobplex Limited" on September 3, 2014 (more than a year before the November 2015 media release). Strangely, Frank Smeekes was appointed as Director on September 3; resigned on September 4, and was then reappointed on September 4 (the same day).

Meanwhile, the entity, DHR Global Limited, started to come under the watch of the UK corporate regulator in 2013, when the entity received the first of its three (to date) notices of compulsory strike-off. Each year, DHR Global has eventually lodged its paperwork late and the strike-off action has been discontinued.

DHR Global Limited’s statutory accounts

DHR Global’s annual accounts make interesting reading. In three out of its four years, it has made a loss.

The 2011 audited accounts were filed late on October 4, 2013. In 2011, the loss was GB£116,851. The reason? The business had GB£452,824 “administrative expenses” on turnover of GB£304,210 i.e. 149% of turnover.

At the end of 2011, the business was owed GB£274,978 by “group undertakings” due within one year and itself owed GB£405,136 to “group undertakings” plus GB£300,096 to other creditors. By the end of 2011, DHR Global’s net current liabilities were a negative GB£220,106 i.e. current assets were not enough to cover current liabilities.

The auditors, appointed by DHR Global itself, made it clear their 2011 was qualified due to DHR’s limiting the scope of the audit:

  •             “We were unable to determine whether proper accounting records had been maintained”
  •             “We were unable to obtain external evidence in respect of significant creditors”

The auditors made similar qualifications in their 2012 and 2013 audits.

The auditors also drew attention in 2011 to the fact that they made “disclosure … concerning the company’s ability to continue as a going concern”. They appeared to indicate that DHR Global was a going concern because it was being “financially supported by the group” i.e. DHR International. The auditors made it clear they they were relying on David Hoffmann’s “expect[ation] that the group (i.e. DHR International) will continue to support the company”. We have seen in Australia what happens when DHR International decide not to “continue to support” a subsidiary, and the impact on employees, creditors and the taxation authorities.

2012 was a better year for DHR Global, with its inaugural profit of GB£111,111. It is the only year to date when DHR Global has made a profit.  However, net current liabilities were still negative to the tune of GB£89,926. Total assets less current liabilities were marginally negative, meaning DHR Global on its own did not have sufficient assets (even including illiquid assets) to meet its liabilities payable over the next year. Administrative costs were still 92% of turnover.

2012 showed similar intercompany debts and credits to 2011. DHR Global was owed GB£167,204 by “group undertakings” (more than its trade debtors) and owed GB£449,776 to “group undertakings”. The auditors made it clear that the 2012 report did not make related party disclosures as the company “is 100% owned by the group”. The report said DHR Global LLC is the immediate parent and controlling company. No reference is made to DHR International, Inc.

DHR Global’s profitability was short-lived. DHR Global returned to making a loss in 2013, this time a loss of GB£209,711 on turnover of GB£966,481. Administrative costs were still 118% of turnover.

In 2013, net current liabilities grew to negative GB£336,265. Total assets less current liabilities were negative at GB£215,451. Again, the biggest item in DHR Global’s list of current debtors and creditors is DHR International “group undertakings” at GB£196,316 and GB£391,726 respectively.

DHR Global’s accounts for 2014 (lodged recently in October 2015) present a similar picture. The loss remained, this time at GB£199,344 on reduced turnover of GB£654,808. The loss would have been larger but for DHR’s ability carried over tax losses.  Administrative costs were still 136% of turnover.

Yet again, for 2014, net current liabilities were negative GB£457,660 and total assets less current liabilities were negative GB£414,795. There was a big increase in the amount owed to “group undertakings” in 2014 at GB£619,720 (cf GB£106,888 “owed by group undertakings”). The gross amount owed by DHR Global to DHR International represented a staggering 95% of the UK entity’s annual turnover.

In the 2014 audit report, once again David Hoffmann (who always signs the reports as sole Director) disclosed that he “consider[s] DHR Global LLC, a company registered in USA, as the immediate parent and [ultimate] controlling company”. But the report was signed by Hoffmann on September 10 2015 and lodged on October 21, 2015 and, according to the Illinois corporate regulator, DHR Global LLC was subject to an “involuntary dissolution” on April 10, 2015 i.e. five months before Hoffmann disclosed it to be the “ultimate holding company”. This may mean that DHR Global Limited is an orphan not supported by its largest creditor, DHR International.

This seemingly leaves DHR International’s UK business in a precarious state. At least at 31 December 2014, it arguably only had the ability to pay its debts as and when they fall due given the support of the wider DHR International group. However, its 100 per cent shareholder was subsequently dissolved, almost seven months ago. Previous audit reports made it clear that the business was able “to continue as a going concern” because it was being “financially supported by the group”. But the audit report does not acknowledge that DHR Global Limited’s parent, DHR Global LLC, was dissolved between the end of the year and the signing and filing of the audit report.

DHR Global Limited’s taxation expenses

Mark Mullen, UK-based Partner of search firm, Vardis, has shared with us lots of insights. Mullen offered to be quoted on the record: “Strangely enough [2014 was] another loss making year for DHR in the UK… Given the level of Admin cost … it is almost as if they are deliberately running the business as a tax loss on a tax efficient basis to not pay tax in the UK OR there is an arse and elbow issue about how to run a business. Most search firms are cash positive year one. DHR have to be commiserated with that they seem so unfortunate and consistently unlucky in the respect that they are not [cash positive]. I have established 2 search firm[s] in the UK. Both in recessions.”

Between 2010 and 2014, it appears DHR Global paid no net corporate tax in the UK on over GB£3.1 million of turnover and still have over GB£67,000 in accumulated tax losses for future years. Mullen says, “Our politicians are angry about US companies avoiding tax, however DHR claim to be the sixth largest executive search firm globally”. We do not have enough information to know whether or not DHR Global is paying the appropriate amount of tax in the UK.

Mullen points out that the top five search firms all pay corporate tax in the UK: Korn Ferry (2014: GB£1,040,150), Spencer Stuart (2014: GB£146,285), Heidrick & Struggles (2013: GB£106,057), Russell Reynolds (2014: GB£161,000), and Egon Zehnder (2014: GB£482,949). Mullen adds (sarcastically): “Unbelievably they all make a profit”.

Mullen also notes that the old UK CTPartners (pre the Augmentum acquisition) was also a firm whose administrative expenses “varied widely making its UK operations only make a profit once”. He continues, “They made a profit in 2009, but luckily due to their cumulative tax losses did not pay any tax… So we have the happy “merger” of the two most unprofitable search firm[s] in the UK, to create a World beater. It begs the question as to how the Administration cost of these companies are disproportionately high compared to their competitors.”

Mullen also conducted some analysis on DHR Global’s efficiency.

“Finally what are DHR doing in the UK?  If we assume a very low search fee of £60,000 (i.e. … our minimum fee) then in 

"10/11 DHR Global Ltd conducted 5 searches in the UK
"[2012] DHR Global Ltd conducted 20 searches in the UK
"[2013] DHR Global Ltd conducted 16 searches in the UK
"[2014] DHR Global Ltd conducted 11 searches in the UK

“That averages 15.5 searches per year, what you would expect one search consultant to average over a year at any of the big 5. So DHR Global Ltd has been as effective as a one man band.”

The acquisition of certain assets from CTPartners (offices 9 and 10)

In July 2015, following DHR’s due diligence of CTPartners, DHR elected not to acquire CTPartners in full but “certain assets” including CTP’s London operation. The majority of CTPartners’ London team did not end up at DHR. This didn’t stop Geoff Hoffmann claiming on August 10, 2015: “The biggest attraction [of CTPartners] for us was the European footprint, which we were able to secure largely intact” [emphasis added].

DHR signaled to the market that this meant that DHR had one of the largest executive search practices in the UK. A YouTube video posted by DHR on August 5, 2015 (and for a while on the front page of its web site) claims DHR now has “one of the largest London offices with a team of 70+”.

A confidential presentation released into the public domain by transferring Managing Partner, Alex Bennett, on August 11, 2015 on his LinkedIn page refers to “51 new employees in London” and “One of the largest London offices in our industry with a team of almost 70 professionals”. The reference to “almost 70 professionals” is interesting as, usually, “professionals” in a professional services environment is used to refer to those in the profession i.e. excluding support staff.

DHR used the same “70” in a global email to clients on September 14, 2015, when they said “Our new office in London has over 70 employees”. Note, they modified their language from “professionals” to “employees”, presumably because the “70 professionals” was not supportable.

It is not clear that DHR Intentional ever had 70 employees in the London office. At present, DHR list 18 professionals on their web site but this includes Xavier Alix (based in Paris and also listed in Frankfurt), Frank Smeekes (based in Amsterdam and also listed in Chicago, Frankfurt and Paris i.e. he works from five offices at once). At least one of the 16 London-based consultants currently listed has recently updated his LinkedIn profile to show he left DHR in October, but DHR have been unhurried at removing people from the web site. So, we believe there are no more than 15 professionals in the London office. And 4 of these 15 have not updated their LinkedIn profiles to mention DHR International. But, for now, we’ll assume there are 15 there.

A LinkedIn search reveals a further 19 employees including a “Driver”, some associates (researchers) and executive assistants. Accordingly, if we assume there are a five more not listed on LinkedIn, at best there are 39 people at DHR London. Whatever way you look at it, it is not close to the “over 70” as claimed by DHR as recently as September 14, 2015.

Following the acquisition of certain CTPartners assets, DHR moved into the offices at 80 Victoria Street, London (office #9) and put this address on the DHR web site. However, DHR did not actually take over the lease. In October, 2015, the DHR London employees were reportedly given cardboard boxes and told to pack their belongings and leave the building. We know from an email from Managing Partner, Stéphane Rambosson, to President, Christine Greybe, that Rambosson saw DHR’s “not [being] even allowed to take over the Victoria office” as “the ‘catastrophe’ exit”.

DHR London has moved to its (at least) tenth UK office in as many years in Broughton House, at 6 – 8 Sackville Street, London. It took DHR almost two weeks to change the address on the web site.

The UK has legislation called the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006, known colloquially as TUPE and pronounced “tu-pee”. These are the United Kingdom’s implementation of the European Union Business Transfers Directive.

According to Wikipedia, TUPE is an important part of UK labour law, protecting employees whose business is being transferred to another business. The regulations’ main aims are to ensure that, in connection with the transfer, employment is protected (i.e. substantially continued) so that:
  • employees are not dismissed;
  • employees’ most important terms and conditions of contracts are not worsened; and
  • affected employees are informed and consulted through representatives.
These obligations of protection are placed on the transferring companies both before, during and after the transfer. The obligations are relieved if there is an “economic, technical or organizational” reason for the cessation of employment, e.g. insolvency. Information from the UK corporate regulator suggests the former CTPartners entity, CTPartners Augmentum Limited, was not subject to an insolvency event (even if the US parent was) but it too was subject to a compulsory strike-off on August 18, 2015 i.e. after the employees transferred to DHR.

We do not have enough information to know whether TUPE does or does not apply to the employees transferring from CTPartners to DHR Global. What we do know from the email from Managing Partner, Stéphane Rambosson, to President, Christine Greybe, is that one of the CTPartners’ transferring Partners left DHR because she believes (among other things) “that the UK government employment agency were [sic] considering suing DHR at an industrial tribunal for not having paid redundancy costs to CT Partners who were offered to join DHR (and that this could ultimately impact DHR’s ability to trade in the UK)”.

Tip-of-the hat to Mark Mullen and other sources for providing information for this post. As we continue to prepare similar posts on other DHR offices, we welcome more information at unofficial.dhr(at)