Elite Gurkha force leads field in security services

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 July, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 July, 2003, 12:00am

Securicor Gurkha Services is celebrating its 10th anniversary as Asia's leading security service.

Hong Kong's largest employer of the Nepalese community was founded with a nucleus of 24 former British Gurkha servicemen guarding Palm Springs, a residential development in Yuen Long.

The past decade has seen the outfit grow from strength to strength.

Today it employs 580 security personnel in Hong Kong, plus another 320 who work across the region and as far afield as Africa and the Middle East.

Along the way, Securicor Gurkha has extended recruitment beyond its traditional manpower source from the ranks of the British Army and the foothills of the Himalayas.

About 350 employees are local Hong Kong recruits.

'The supply of ex-British Gurkhas is very limited these days,' says director of Gurkhas Services Glenn Tracey. 'We also recruit locals primarily from the disciplined services - from the police, customs, fire brigade and correctional services.'

The scope of Securicor Gurkha operations has also expanded.

The company has played a role in many of the events that have shaped Hong Kong's recent history - including the opening of Hong Kong International Airport and the handover ceremony.

In addition to its 'bread-and-butter' contracts with residential complexes, corporate offices and warehouses, the company has key clients ranging from Standard Chartered Bank and prominent Hong Kong officials to exhibitions, auctions, conferences and casinos in Macau.

The company provides security for international sporting events such as the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens, Cricket Sixes and international soccer fixtures, and provides personal bodyguards for a number of high-profile tycoons and celebrities.

'We started as a simple guard company providing one product, but expansion has meant a lot of technical advances and efficiency improvements,' says Harry Harkins, the company's head of business development.

Demand for security has increased over the years, especially since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre, which resulted in a 15 to 20 per cent boost in business, Mr Harkins says.

There was a similar rise in demand during the build-up to the war in Iraq this year, and Gurkhas were on duty at several hospitals during the Sars outbreak.

Any successful business inevitably faces competition and Securicor Gurkha is no exception.

'We were the first to employ Gurkhas so we had a monopoly when we started. Other companies now offer a similar service, but we keep ahead of the ball-game by continuously improving our service and investing in technology and training,' says Mr Tracey. 'As a result, we're still at the front of the pack and leading the way forward for the security industry.'

About 3 per cent of revenue is invested in training. In a people industry, Securicor Gurkha also stands out for its commitment to staff, earning a 'Caring Company' award from the Social Welfare Department, and Best Employer and Employer Gold Star awards from the Employees Retraining Board.

The company regularly takes part in the annual 'Trailwalker' endurance race - last year finishing third for the fourth year running, with a time of 14.5 hours. 'We'll definitely improve this year,' says Mr Tracey.