Caan do: ex-Dragon on hunt in Ireland

James Caan, the Pakistani-British entrepreneur probably best known here for his stint on BBC's Dragons' Den, says he has a 'soft spot' for Ireland. It's a claim many people around the world make, but for Caan his appreciation comes from his first-hand experience of one of Ireland's more successful and wealthy female entrepreneurs Rosaleen Blair.

After setting up a nanny recruitment agency in Dublin, Blair moved to London and began working for Caan at his recruitment firm Alexander Mann. In 1996 she took over a division of his business, Alexander Mann Solutions, later acquiring it in a management buyout. In May that business changed hands for $1.1bn.

For his part, Caan sold out of Alexander Mann in 2002 but is naturally impressed with what the Irishwoman went on to achieve.

"Rosaleen was a phenomenal success globally. And therefore I have a clear soft spot for the Irish market because clearly Rosaleen has demonstrated that a successful female entrepreneur being head of an organisation can truly create wonders."

Caan has gone on to focus on private equity and his latest venture, Recruitment Entrepreneur, describes itself as "a global investor in early to mid-stage recruitment businesses".

He has recently turned his eye to Ireland, investing in specialised recruiter 360 Search, headed by Lynda Barnes.

While scepticism about the potential for jobs creation on the back of Brexit has seeped into discourse in Ireland, Caan firmly believes Ireland will be a beneficiary of Britain's exit from the EU.

"Strategically as a business we had identified Ireland in January and said if Brexit goes the way we think it is, growth opportunities are going to be quite attractive. I estimate the financial services alone will create between 10,000 to 20,000 jobs," he says.


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