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Sophie Forrest - Lavery

The Forrest Group

“When we last spoke, my plan was to create the Forrest Group, which would include HR, training and coaching, health and safety, health and wellbeing and payroll. I would be the CEO and then have the five other divisions running under the Forrest Group umbrella. When we launched Forrest Training Academy last August, Health and Safety was sitting within that, but what we’ve done now, as well as payroll is we’ve pulled them both out as separate entities.

We have specialist consultants that work in health and safety that deliver the health and safety side of things, including training and consultancy – Nick Adams who looks after that for us has been in health and safety for around thirty years and our payroll services are also done by a specialist payroll processor.

The other plan that we talked about was to have a managing director for each of the divisions – we’re not quite there yet, I’m still very much holding on to a lot of it, but under the Forrest Training Academy I do have Jacqui Falvey who is co-director for that, as well as Health and Safety, but for the moment, I am and heading up the three other divisions.

The future is to let the roots grow for each of the businesses, we want to be a one stop shop for businesses, which is why we launched payroll, not all businesses have the opportunity to have their accountant dealing with their payroll, so whilst businesses have their HR with us, we can now offer them our other services as well.

We plan to grow the HR side a lot more, we’ve now got a new salesperson on board who is assisting us with growing the business in the first area within the five regions that we plan to grow in, which is Wales and the South West. We also have four other regions that we’re looking at, with the plan to have a team in each area, which will be a mixture of sales and HR, in terms of the delivery.

We were very fortunate recently to be finalists at the Kent Women In Business Awards, we were up for two awards which was Growth and Entrepreneur of the Year, we’re proud that we achieved the runner’s up award for Entrepreneur, it was a great night as we had the whole team there and also great to be recognised. To be amongst such prestigious women in business was quite overwhelming, bearing in mind, my business is still just three and a half years old.

It’s all with thanks to our clients and to our team, I’m fortunate to have a fantastic business consultant (Sean Smith) that supports me and has been helping me grow the business, and we are now lucky enough to have him as a non-executive director, coming up in October.

We’re also finalists for other awards – Best Business Women Awards. It’s a national award so we are really proud of that, taking place on 15th October and again, we are delighted for the recognition that comes with it.

I get the same amount of enjoyment now as I did when I set the business up, it’s just intensified and comes from a slightly different angle – my passion for the business grows and grows and grows. It’s in a good place now with the five different divisions, I won’t be adding anymore on, I just want to let the business grow from the roots upwards.

I have strong plans to grow the HR and training side of the business and each other element of the business will just organically grow. Importantly, I still have that flexibility of running the business as a working mum, as I said in my first interview with you, it’s just a bit different now, instead of doing a bit of consultancy I’m ultimately running three different businesses.”

Sophie Forrest – September 2021


“The last time we spoke was in the very early days of ForrestHR, the business had just started, which was in March 2018 and at the time my view was to be an independent HR consultant. I did have plans to obviously grow the business, but from my point of view, it fitted in very well with being a working Mum with my son going to secondary school and my very lively young dog, who is now massive and takes up a lot of my time!

As the business grew – 85% of my business was coming through BNI, I then started to think how I could grow it further and looked at taking on self-employed consultants to assist with the growth, by placing them into a BNI chapter close to where they lived. They were then also promoting and representing ForrestHR, so the idea was for all of us to bring in at least 85% from each of those BNI groups and that’s now gradually starting to happen. From when I started to make those plans of how I wanted the business to grow, things have changed slightly, and I now have a different view as to where I want the business to go. I guess I’ve got a bit more entrepreneurial with it now and have a bit more of a business head on, rather than just an independent consultant working mum, which is where I first was.

I’ve got some really big plans for the business, really big plans, particularly for this year. We will soon be launching our Health and Wellbeing programme, which is currently rolled out on a trial basis with a couple of clients, who have kindly offered to go through the programme for free. I’m currently working with marketing and PR consultants to look at putting together a big campaign to launch the Health and Wellbeing programme to the market in the coming months.

We’ve also relatively recently started offering Training and Development services to clients as well, and having seen the growth of both of these areas, we plan on becoming more than just another HR service. I view the training and health and wellbeing as businesses that could run separately, so my intention is to restructure the business later on this year, where Forrest Group will be created. Forrest Group will then have three subsidiary businesses, ForrestHR, Forrest Training and Forrest Health & Wellbeing. I’ll be CEO of Forrest Group and will appoint Managing Directors for each of the three subsidiary businesses to really take them to another level. This will allow me to really have a professional business, manage my large dog more and create a positive work/life balance, which I think is really important in this day and age.”

Sophie Forrest, Forrest HR
20th January 2020


Story posted on November 30th 2018

“I wanted to have the option of running a business the way I wanted it to be run, being able to supply a professional yet simple service to clients who need HR support.

I started the business in April of this year after being made redundant for the second time within a year, so I decided as a result of that I wanted to do something a bit different, something professional but still being able to manage my family commitments. I’ve lived in Tunbridge Wells since I was 8 years old, so born and bred more or less and I’ve never really explored the business side of the town and I feel like I’m really doing that now”

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About the business

ForrestHR was founded by managing director Sophie Forrest, a highly qualified HR professional.
With over 20 years’ experience in the HR industry, Sophie has worked in senior HR generalist and strategic roles within a variety of industries including financial services, construction, law, hospitality, sports, retail, plus many more.

Her HR consultancy experience has included managing and supporting clients with a variety of complex and day-to-day needs.

She is committed to giving a first-class service in all areas of her practice, which has included dealing with high-profile employment relations cases, company restructure projects and employment contract and company policy reviews.

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