Brothers Kevin and Jason Freeman have both travelled around the globe pursuing separate corporate careers. But somehow, they have both ended up back in Oxfordshire, near where they were born. Now their mission is to help companies through one of the trickiest tasks ever faced by a business — relocation.

The middle of an economic downturn may seem an unlucky time to be running a venture that relies on property moves, but the brothers say there are still plenty of takers for their specialist services based in Witney.

Kevin said: “People are still moving office and there is lots of outsourcing going on. If you have a good idea, you have to believe in it, and there are plenty of businesses who are saying ‘Let’s go for it’.”

Having started his career with Whitbread, and continued in the distribution and publishing industries, Kevin started to become fed up with all the travel and found himself a job in Oxford — a bad experience, but one that was to prove a blessing in disguise.

“It was a big mistake. I arrived on the first day and no-one was expecting me. It went downhill from there. When they said they were doing really badly and needed to get rid of a third of the staff, it couldn’t have come at a better time for me.”

When he founded Brook Project Management in 1999, he was in the fortunate position of already having a contract with BG in Reading, which he had secured through contacts in the IT industry.

“I finished my job on a Monday and started my new work on Wednesday,” he said.

Meanwhile, Jason had been working for Japanese company Yamato, organising international relocations, and had also moved near to the family home in Banbury.

The brothers put their heads together, put out a mailshot, and landed another contract — this time with Blackwell Publishing, which was being formed from the merger of Blackwell Scientific, based at Osney Mead, and Blackwell Publishers, then in Cowley Road.

“That work grew into something that continued until quite recently. First, there was the transition to new offices at Oxford Business Park. The new building wasn’t big enough for the two companies, so they needed more space at the business park.

“One of the biggest jobs was the offshoring of hundreds of journals. We looked at Singapore as a possibility, and it became clear that it would produce the best result. In the end, we relocated the whole journal printing and distribution business from Britain, which was a major business transition.

“We had to build a big IT infrastructure so that you could process orders online, and all that needed to work with their systems.

“One of the spin-offs was that they needed a new office in Singapore and we did a search, started from scratch, and got it all to work. Since then, the office has grown significantly. To keep the Oxford connection, we created a wall with a picture of Oxford by local photographer Chris Andrews.”

The brothers believe that all businesses need outside help to cope with relocations.

Kevin added: “People think that they can do it themselves, but there is so much — finding suitable premises, finding and managing suppliers, designing the layout, managing the fit-out of the new premises, including IT infrastructure, looking after your staff, managing the actual relocation, terminating your current contracts, sorting out fresh contracts.

“There is a mass of detail. The way we do it is to look at it from the customer’s point of view. You can get a fit-out company, and they could provide project management.

“But the company has to manage the risk to the business. People get very stressed about moving —how will I get there? Will I have somewhere to eat? And dealing with IT and servers holds no fears for me — that’s my bread and butter, since my background is in IT.

“When people try doing it themselves it really takes all their time. Someone is not going to be doing their ordinary job — or doing two jobs badly. You have to have one point of contact. Everyone in the office will want to have their say on how it will look or where they are going to sit.”

As a basic minimum, he advises companies to bring someone in to draw up a checklist.

“You can almost guarantee that there will be something that no one’s thought of. It’s quite a challenge for us. We have counted up all the relocations we have done and decided that it’s a speciality now.”

Name: Brook Project Management Established: 1999 Managing director: Kevin Freeman Number of staff: Variable Annual turnover: Confidential Contact: 01993 709206 Web