Recruitment firm Pertemps has appointed a long-serving employee - who joined the firm as a secretary - as its new chairman.

Carmen Watson, aged 56, is succeeding Mike Owen who is stepping back as part of a planned succession strategy.

She joined Pertemps in 1976 as a secretary, and at the age of 24 was running a s5 million branch operation in Wolverhampton.

In 1983, she became a board director.

As chairman, her role will be to work with the Pertemps board to drive the next phase of the company's growth strategy.

Earlier this year, Network Holdings delisted from AIM and re-joined the Pertemps business to form the Pertemps Network Group (PNG).

Private equity provider LDC made a s28 million investment in the new operation which is one of the UK's largest, privately owned recruitment services business.

Ms Watson said: "I have been part of the Pertemps family for over three decades and am passionate about my contribution to its continued success.

''My role will be one of stewardship of the business, and the priority will be to steer the company to greater expansion; that includes ensuring the Pertemps infrastructure and strategy is fit for purpose to manage this growth either organically or through acquisitions."

Pertemps - commercial and industrial arm of the Pertemps Network Group - is a s350 million turnover business with more than 100 branches across the UK.

It provides recruitment services to private sector businesses and public sector organisations including small/medium sized business and larger blue chip companies.

It operates across a wide range of specialist sectors including IT, finance and legal as well as its traditional core recruitment of administration/PA/secretarial, industrial, warehouse operatives and driving.

Tim Watts, lifetime president of PNG, said: "Carmen has been part of the Pertemps family for a large part of my working life.

''Over the last 36 years, I have worked with her on many projects and have seen her flourish. Pertemps is in safe hands with Carmen at the helm, and she is without doubt going to take the company to a new level of sustained growth."