Onsite RPO In-house Recruitment Team: An Interview with Hovis #IHRA19

Best RPO Onsite In-house Recruitment Team Finalist: Hovis RPO

After being shortlisted for ‘Best RPO Onsite In-house Recruitment Team’, Candidate.ID’s CEO, Adam Gordon, had a chat with Liam Stokey, Director at Seven and Lee Smith from Seven’s Hovis RPO team about the secret to their success.

Big changes were made at Hovis in 2014 when they became an independent private-equity owned business. After an initial period managing recruitment internally, with a variety of suppliers, approaches, costs and levels of success, the Talent Acquisition model was not evolving at the pace necessary and Hovis had the goals of reducing costs to make necessary investment elsewhere and improving the candidate and line manager experience. Hovis’s HR Director wanted to move to an outsourcing model and due to a long-standing successful partnership Seven were chosen to work as an outsourced Talent Acquisition department, blending seamlessly with the central HR function.

Clearly defined team

The Hovis and Seven RPO model consists of a clearly defined team with a clearly defined strategy. They split their team of 4 into their sector specialisms:

  • Talent Acquisition Lead – based at Hovis sites and head office, reporting to the HR Director and managing the team remotely. The TA Lead covers recruitment of senior roles and building and maintaining relationships across the whole business with Heads of Supply Chain, Central Functions, Logistics, Engineering & Manufacturing.
  • Talent Acquisition Manager – recruiting for senior roles and Finance, HR & Commercial.
  • Talent Acquisition Specialist – recruiting all Operations, Engineering & Manufacturing.
  • Talent Acquisition Specialist – recruiting for Apprenticeships and Logistics.

This structure enables them to utilise their expertise and experience in the most efficient way. With a small team, communication is constant, improvements can be made instantly, and they have developed an agile model that flexes to the needs of their client.

Nationwide Apprenticeship Schemes

For the second year running, they have delivered a nationwide project to recruit an Engineering Apprenticeship cohort. This has involved full project management and delivery of attraction, selection, and final assessment. This Apprenticeship scheme is nationwide across their UK bakeries and has therefore required incredible focus on co-ordination and consistency. On top of this, they have also delivered a successful recruitment process for the Hovis Business Apprenticeship, and the 8 successful candidates began their course in September 2019.

A devoted onsite RPO team

Having a devoted onsite RPO team facilitates strong relationships and now that recruitment is managed centrally, key areas of the business can focus on their goals:

  • Marketing – the RPO team have the responsibility of the employer brand which enables the marketing team to focus on the consumer brand.
  • HR – the onsite RPO team’s work has allowed the HR Managers across the business to focus on the learning and development of the Hovis workforce. The onboarding process has also been transformed to provide a seamless experience, reducing the number of leavers in their first 12 months, and encouraging cross-functional working.
  • Finance – like all consumer brands, Hovis have to be commercially focussed and it’s been necessary to recruit several new members of the Finance team to meet this demand. The RPO team headhunted key people with the right level of capability and mix of skills to fulfil the needs of this central team.
  • Supply Chain – to develop the efficiency of the Hovis supply network, they recruited 53 people into supply chain, ensuring that they attracted candidates with the right skillset and attitude to take the Hovis business forward.
  • Senior Leadership Team – they made a number of essential placements into this team, transforming the structure of the leadership and bringing new skills and direction to all functions.


Over 18 months, the talent acquisition team has filled over 150 pivotal vacancies in every function of the Hovis business.

In 2018, the RPO delivered a six-figure sum in cost avoidance to Hovis. Over the course of the partnership, the average hiring time has reduced from 10 to 5.8 weeks

Agency use in 2019 has been reduced to 0% from 70% in 2017 which is a phenomenal reduction.

They’re immensely proud to have never received negative feedback from candidates who have gone through their process, and only positive feedback from the HR and Hiring Managers.

The In-house Recruitment Awards 2019 took place on Wednesday 4th December in London. Candidate.ID partnered the Best RPO Onsite In-house Recruitment Team category – congratulations to all the finalists and winners!


Candidate.ID is a talent pipeline software platform which enables the most sophisticated talent nurture marketing available in recruitment. Our data and insight technology allows recruiters to understand who is merely aware and who is warm for opportunities with your organisation in real time. We launched in September 2016, were acknowledged as one of the most disruptive startups in HR tech the following month and now enable multi-national employers to create more personalised candidate experience, enhance quality-of-shortlist and reduce time-to-shortlist.


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