TWO former Marks and Spencer human resource executives have launched their new consultancy with a contract win from their first tender bid.

Jenny Wallage and John McElwee spent much of the past decade in London working on staffing issues with the retail giant and have both previously been head of HR for the company’s stores in Scotland.

Now after several months of planning they have opened Total People Solutions.

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The business has recently won a three-year public sector deal with an unnamed Scottish council to provide a range of services, including mediation.

Ms Wallage said: “We are really pleased with that. It is a great start. Mediation is an area we are really keen to develop. We see a lot of disputes go to employment tribunal and we want to stop the disputes going to that stage.”

The UK Government last year announced a reform of the Employment Tribunal Service including a new fee structure and an emphasis on taking claims to conciliation service ACAS first.

The bulk of those changes, contained in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, are expected to be introduced this summer.

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills has estimated the average cost to a company of resolving a dispute through tribunal is £3800 and it takes 26 weeks.

Ms Wallage and Mr McElwee, who are both lay members of the Employment Tribunals Service and accredited mediators, said their experience of employment tribunals and the proposed changes were key drivers in persuading them to form Total People Solutions.

In recent weeks the business has also secured consultancy and project work with a range of small and medium sized businesses in Scotland plus a few in England.

Mr McElwee said: “Although we have come from a big corporate world we understand different things will fit different businesses.

“It can be easy to have an off the shelf thing but actually in business you need tailor made things.

“We have to make sure the solutions we come up with are cost effective and fit for purpose.”

The pair have had some other consultants asking whether they could join Total People Solutions.

Mr McElwee added: “We are not quite at that stage yet. Maybe in a year’s time we would like to be in a position to be writing our own employment policies.”