Cucumber: From the beginning


Cucumber Recruitment is owned by Johnny, Bobby, James and Tom. Friends for years before establishing Cucumber, they had stable foundations on which to build. Each had previously owned companies and had their own successes. Johnny had the idea of turning these successes into a format that also helped others… Cucumber was born.

Johnny and Bobby told me the story of where the idea came from ‘one night back in January 2018, sat on a bench in Johnny’s back garden’ after they rekindled their friendship playing Friday night football. Tom and James were involved too from the very start with Tom coming up with the name. The team wanted something that would stick in people’s mind, and that it did.

Early in 2018, a care provider called Turning point in Bradford were struggling, Bobby went to visit them and struck up an instant relationship with the manager there and the shifts just started coming. The whole thing was a continuous learning process. One of these lessons involved staff profiles. These should include personal details of the candidate, DBS status and training information. Instead, the first profiles put together by Jonathan detailed the candidate enjoying horse riding and socialising at the weekend. Luckily, they learnt what was actually required pretty quickly. 

Cucumber started to expand by word of mouth round Bradford. The company was recommended continually throughout West Yorkshire and soon the company shifted from 3-4 bookings each week to 100. 

James had always been involved with Cucumber and was a huge part of setup. But in January 2019 he took the plunge and dived in full time. Jonathan and Bobby described this to me as a ‘game changer’. James had fresh ideas and lots of knowledge and before long, Cucumber was in Bristol. At first, shifts in Bristol came predominantly four seasons. However, within weeks of starting to work there, the demand erupted. Again, by word of mouth, good news stories of Cucumber and their staff started to circulate. 

At this stage, Cucumber needed an office. Johnny’s wife has a tutoring centre. So, between the hours of 9 and 3, the directors would use the centre (and it’s tiny child-size chairs) as their base. 

In 2020, the office next door became available and the renovations for the Cucumber Broadway office go underway. 

It was at this time that Danielle, the first member of the fulfilment team joined the crew with Jon, James and Bob still being extremely hands on and involved in the process. Things escalated to 400 bookings a week and David was hired to join Danielle in September 2019. Bookings escalated once again and the team were now booking 600 shifts a week. By the end of 2019, Cucumber had 9 staff across compliance and bookings, things were looking up. 

By February 2020, bookings had peaked at 800 per week, but with lockdown and the devastating impact of covid on care homes, bookings started to decline. Throughout lockdown bookings were at a consistent level of 250, or thereabouts, each week. 

The team pushed through and in May 2021, as the world started to adjust back into a more normal way of life, bookings started to increase once again. This increase was slight initially, numbers grew to 300-350. Then in July 2021, vaccination rules came in and bookings exploded! By August 2021 the team hit 1000 bookings per week. Que Jonny and Bobby’s emotional champagne speech. 

Cucumber was on the up and, surrounded by a close-knit team of Cucumber staff, the family was succeeding once again. 

Towards Christmas 2021, more new recruits joined fulfilment and bookings peaked at 1700 in February. This steadied off to 1400 for a few months but recent new contracts have pushed us back up to 1700 hitting records every week. Cucumber is one of the fastest growing care agencies in the UK, but Cucumber is also a family. Every single person who works for us is an integral part of what we strive to deliver. Fancy working for a company like this? Apply here 

More to read