Michael Hughes is the former CEO of Hesco Bastion, which is one of Leeds’ most famous companies. It was founded in 1991 by Jimi Heselden OBE it’s main products are the Concertainer barrier systems which were used to create Camp Bastion which was the Uk’s biggest base in Iraq. Subsequent to Jimi’s death in 2010 Michael, who is a chartered accountant, came to help the family run the business initially for a few days pw then full time, becoming CEO on 2013.
At about this time the UK and the US started to withdrew from Iraq and the demand from Hesco’s 2 biggest customers, the UK and the US military, declined rapidly. Turnover fell from £120m to £23m and a drastic rationalisation plan was implemented which led to a more than 50% reduction in the workforce. Since then the company has invested in new products and sought new markets such as oil and gas and is moving its business into new area which are less hostile environments than their traditional markets. The turnover has increased to £60m and the company has been recruiting new staff for the last few years. It still exports 98% of its products.