The elite top 10 of our Top 100 entrepreneurs includes a retailer, a dot.com founder and a recycling specialist
1 Dinesh Dhamija, 53
If he wore a skirt, Dinesh Dhamija reckons that more people would take notice of his fast-growing online travel group, ebookers. The level of public perception of ebookers is much less than its smaller rival, lastminute.com, where the ‘Martha effect’ of its glamorous founder, Ms Lane Fox, has resulted in acres more publicity. Still, Dhamija can draw on more than 20 years’ experience in business and, as he says, ‘there’s no short cut to experience’.
Born in Australia the son of a diplomat, Dhamija lived in India, Mauritius, Afghanistan, Czechoslovakia and the Netherlands, but calls Britain home after moving here in 1968. He took a law degree (graduating with a third) at Cambridge, started out as a travel agent in 1979, when he rented an 80-sq-ft booth in Earls Court tube station. From this, he sold cheap air tickets to budget travellers, before launching the Flightbookers travel agency in 1983 – well before the internet had even been thought of.
It was not until 1997 that ebookers was launched as an in-house website for Flightbookers. It grew rapidly and was de-merged as a separate company in February 1999. After its flotation, ebookers continued to grow rapidly but was hit by the high-tech downturn and the collapse in travel following the outrages of 11 September. By then, ebookers had bought out its parent, Flightbookers, and its former customers migrated online to help the business grow. Despite the Sars outbreak and the Gulf War, both of which hit the travel trade, ebookers is growing fast, with turnover of £273 million in 2002 and on target for £1 billion this year.
New businesses are developed organically or acquired. Earlier this year, Travelbag, a long-haul specialist, was snapped up for £55 million and has been successfully integrated, with expected annualised cost savings of around £5 million. But perhaps the biggest star in the ebookers firmament is its Indian Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) facility in New Delhi. Born of a need to reduce costs, the Indian operation’s call-centre has expanded from about 600 staff to 2,000, and Dhamija is in talks to provide third-party work from the facility. What was a back-office function could become a separate profit centre. ‘If we take on two clients the same size as ebookers, it could provide profits before tax of £8.5 million in 12 months,’ he says – enough to make lastminute.com green with envy.
The success of ebookers has helped make Dhamija a wealthy man. His stake is now worth nearly £120 million, while past share sales and property easily take him to £140 million.
2 Andrew Turner, 45
From a small London office, accountant Andrew Turner set up Central Trust in 1987 as a broker and lender of secured loans in the consumer finance sector. Now based in Norwich, the business is growing fast, with another 220 jobs due to be created over the next two years.
Its principal subsidiary is one of the largest independent finance brokers offering loans to UK homeowners, while other subsidiaries operate in the loan and mortgage packaging and telemarketing markets. Central Trust’s profits and sales have surged on the back of the consumer borrowing spree of recent years, and in 2002 it made £18.7 million profit on £39.8 million sales. On these figures it is worth perhaps £100 million.
Earlier this year, Turner launched a new state-of-the art computer system, which he reckons will give Central Trust a competitive advantage. His goal is to make Central Trust (in which he has 100% of the shares) Britain’s leading independent supplier of personal finance products. It’s a demanding goal, but few would bet against the low-key accountant pulling it off.
3 Peter Cruddas, 50
Leaving Shoreditch Comprehensive at 15 to bring in money for his family, Peter Cruddas worked as a teleprinter typist for Western Union. He later worked as a telex operator in a bank dealing room, where he became so good at it that they let him do the trades. Soon he was working in commodity broking, but, at 35 and burnt out, he chucked it in to set up on his own as a foreign exchange consultant.
Currency Management Consultants took off in the first Gulf War in 1990, when it bought foreign exchange for Middle Eastern banks, which the larger British and American institutions were too nervous to deal with. CMC grew rapidly after that, when a software developer came to Cruddas with the idea of developing a real-time trading system – he had approached the big banks in vain. Cruddas poured £30m into its development; he now sells these products in lucrative markets such as China.
CMC also acts as a market-maker to clients in forex, derivatives and spread betting. There had been talk of a Nasdaq float in the late 1990s, but Cruddas will not take that route. From his Monaco base, he can easily commute to his London office to keep an eye on operations and he still owns all the company with his family. In 2002-03, CMC made £6.9 million profit on sales of £25.7 million in 2003, but that was after Cruddas took a £6.8 million salary. With its track record, the firm is worth about £300 million. Cruddas reckons his Shoreditch schooling has helped. ‘I’ve got one massive advantage over my peers in the City… I’m streetwise. That’s something you don’t get at Eton or Harrow.’
4 Hamish Ogston, 55
Sometimes, it is just sheer luck that can save a fortune, as Hamish Ogston well knows. Three years ago, unimpressed by the performance of his pension provider, he decided to switch pension fund managers. But after his policies had been turned into cash ready to go into new policies, Ogston hit a snag. Some documentation was missing and the transfer ground to a halt with the money in the bank. And there the situation remained – except that he cashed in right at the peak of the bull market. Had the money gone into a pension, it would now be worth half or less. ‘I’d been saved by the assurance company’s incompetence,’ he says.
Ogston really does know about good service. The son of a dental surgeon, he tried his hand at a number of ventures after university before setting up the CPP Group in 1980. The York-based operation is a leading provider of what are termed assistance products and services throughout Europe, including Card Protection Plan, which provides credit and payment card protection to millions of card users worldwide; similar services exist for lost keys (Keycover) and mobile phone protection.
CPP now partners more than 300 leading consumer brands in the financial services, utilities, telecom and retail sectors. The group has a worldwide base of over 11.3 million customers. Ogston owns virtually all the business and slogged away from 1980 to 1990 as it made losses for the entire decade, refusing to give up. His reward: a business now valued by the City at around £375 million, with a £9.3 million profit on sales of £105.2 million last year. A float is likely this year when the market improves.
5= Dr Peter Lammer, 45
and Dr Jan Hruska, 46
A new £32 million headquarters has just opened in Abingdon for Sophos – a sign that the battle against computer viruses is an unrelenting and booming business. With 20 million customers, Sophos is one of those classic niche high-tech businesses that Britain is so good at producing. The business dates back to when founders Jan Hruska and Peter Lammer met at Oxford, where they were both bright postgraduates.
They hit it off and in 1985 co-founded Sophos as a computer security software company. It was initially tough going and by 1987 they were considering either moving into importing crockery from Italy or trading coal and soda ash via Russian and Chinese contacts. But they decided to stick with it, and today Sophos is a world leader in anti-virus software. Two-thirds of FTSE 100 companies are protected by its products.
The Abingdon-based company is growing fast on the financial front too, with sales up 30% in 2002-03 to £41 million and profits up 24% to £12.1 million. The crockery industry’s loss is clearly the high tech sector’s gain. Hruska and Lammer have stakes worth more than £70 million apiece in the operation.
7 Chris Dawson, 52
CDS (Superstores International)
Former market trader Chris Dawson has been called ‘Plymouth’s very own deluxe Del Boy’. From trading in jackets, he
settled down to open his first superstore in 1988. Today, CDS (Superstores International) has eight outlets selling everything from DIY products to household textiles. The business is expanding fast and made a profit of £3.8million on sales of £44.6 million in the year to January 2003. There are more stores on the way, which will take the total to 13, and this should push up sales and profits sharply. On these figures, Dawson is worth perhaps £85 million.
8 Gordon Shields, 55
Shields Environmental Group
In 1979, Gordon Shields founded Shields Environmental, an Essex-based precious metals reclaiming and recycling group. It is best known for the Fonebank scheme, launched in 2002 to recycle old mobile phones. About 15 million are upgraded annually in the UK, equal to 1,500 tons of potentially hazardous landfill from the discarded phones. Fonebank is growing rapidly across Europe, and helped Shields Environmental to a £1.5 million profit on £26.3 million sales in 2001-02. It’s easily a £30 million business, and is wholly owned by Shields and his family.
9 Charles Wigoder, 43
A veteran of the telecom sector, Charles Wigoder qualified as a chartered accountant before becoming a City analyst. He set up Cellular Communications in 1988, later selling the renamed Peoples Phone to Vodafone in 1996 for £77 million. But Wigoder was too young to retire and immediately started up again with Telecom Plus, using many of his old team from Peoples Phone. Based in north London, Telecom Plus has evolved from a telecom operator into a multi-utility firm, offering savings of up to £500 annually for domestic customers who switch to it for fixed phone, internet and mobile phone, gas and electricity services. Its flagship product, the Smart Box, is free and plugs into the phone socket, where it hunts out the best line rates. Wigoder has a £38 million stake in Telecom Plus. The company’s sales surged from £32.7 million in 2001-02 to £58 million last year, when its customers subscribed for over 225,000 services (up 40% in a year).
10 Denys Shortt, 39
Denys Shortt grew up in India and East Africa, where his father was a tea estate manager. Educated in Britain, Shortt spent most of his time at school playing hockey, and from the age of 14 to 22 played for England in more than 100 international matches. On leaving school, he worked for the family business, a groceries wholesaler called Shakespeare Products, where he learnt his business skills. In 1994, Shortt set up his own venture, DCS Europe, which he has built into a leading distributor of health and beauty products. He has also developed DCS brands called En-liven, En-visage and En-essence, which sell in Makro, Bewise and T&S Stores in the UK. DCS exports En brands to more than 45 countries around the world through its export division exportbrands.com. Shortt even moved into web content software after he found that internet solutions available for his online sales growth were expensive and poor, and has developed his own proprietary solution, Enable Software, which he markets to other retailers. Little wonder that over the past five years sales at DCS have zoomed from about £3 million to £89 million, making it one of the fastest growing firms in sales terms in MT’s Top 100.
High-flyers who have achieved success by the age of 40 or under. Interestingly, the sector is dominated by women
13 Penny Streeter, 36
Ambition 24 Hours
Penny Streeter’s first business went bust in 1991, forcing her to move into homeless accommodation as she had so little money. Since then, she has made a remarkable recovery. Streeter originally trained as a beauty therapist but went into the recruitment business instead. She flourished as a branch manager before deciding in 1989 to go it alone. Unfortunately, she moved her new business into expensive offices just before the recession struck. After the failure of this first business, Streeter briefly returned to South Africa, where she had been raised. She came back to Britain and moved again into the recruitment industry. This time around she did it differently, taking
a small desk in the corner of a friend’s office. With her mother’s help, she worked alternate days so they could share childcare costs. At weekends, with money tight, they worked as DJs at children’s parties. In 1996 they moved the business to the high street and changed the name to Ambition. The big break came when, aside from their normal financial services and secretarial recruitment, they were asked to supply care assistants for a nursing home. It was an untapped market. Streeter started training and supplying staff, often driving them to remote homes in Surrey to get them to work on time. Nursing homes need staff at any time of day or night, so the company operated 24 hours a day, renaming itself Ambition 24 Hours. The effort paid off. The Croydon-based operation now employs 150 people and last year had a turnover of £60 million. Streeter has diversified into the social care sector and runs a locum service for doctors. She also plans to move into the private healthcare market.
20 Brent Hoberman, 35
Brent Hoberman has been called ‘nearly-famous’, which suits him well. While all the publicity for the lastminute.com business has centred on his co-founder, Martha Lane Fox, Hoberman has quietly got on with running the business. It is just over five years since lastminute was born, offering a range of last-minute flight and holiday deals over the web. Its famous flotation in March 2000 at the height of the internet boom was marked by enormous publicity, but then the shares fell sharply as boom turned to crash. But unlike shoals of other internet start-ups, lastminute not only survived but is prospering. Its shares were floated at 380p and then sank to 18.75p, but have now made a remarkable recovery to around 230p. By keeping a tight rein on costs and growing by acquisition, lastminute is now close to making large profits, which is why we can include Hoberman and Lane Fox on this list. Indeed, with consolidation in the internet sector likely, lastminute is regarded as a likely acquisition target of leading American internet companies. That should boost Hoberman’s bank balance beyond the current £47 million value of his stake.
24 Martha Lane Fox, 30
The real star of the internet boom, with appearances on Question Time and in virtually every paper during the flotation of lastminute.com, Martha Lane Fox has confounded the doubters who reckoned that the company would go the way of virtually every other internet start-up of the time. Today, the London-based holidays-to-flights operation is nearing real profitability and the shares are approaching the flotation price again on the back of some pretty solid takeover hopes. The daughter of an Oxford academic, Lane Fox has a £30 million fortune locked up in lastminute shares, making her one of London’s most eligible girls about town. Having complained recently that ‘my social life has suffered horribly as a result of my career – I normally get out of work at about midnight and am grumpy and tired’, Lane Fox has since announced that she is leaving lastminute.com to pursue something different. Whatever she turns her hand to next, she is bound to be worth watching.
26= William Tinkler, 40
In 1987 William Tinkler started work as a joinery contractor with £500 capital. He later diversified into housebuilding and road maintenance. But his big break came in 1997, when his company WA
Developments moved into the railway business. Today, the Carlisle-based operation specialises in railway engineering and repairs, and it has invested in a £500,000 training centre covering everything from trackside safety to use of heavy machinery. In the past four years, turnover has rocketed from £3 million to £21 million. Sales will grow further as Tinkler has now turned his attention to roads again with the recent acquisition of Eddie Stobart, the famous haulier that comes complete with its own highly profitable fan club (a bigger money-spinner than the haulage operation proper).
26= Sarah Tremellen, 37
‘Our goal is to make big-boobed women feel good about themselves,’ declares Sarah Tremellen, founder of Leamington Spa-based Bravissimo. She set up the lingerie supplier in 1995 in her sitting room after failing to find bras big enough when she was pregnant. What started as a mail-order operation has expanded to include five retail outlets and an online shopping service. In 2002, Bravissimo reported an £893,000 profit on sales of £10.8 million, thanks largely to a new range of colours and styles. As the Bravissimo website extols: ‘Watch out as the lingerie drawers of Bravissimo girls become the envy of our flatter-chested sisters! From day one of Bravissimo, we have been overwhelmed by all your loyalty and support and we really couldn’t have done this without you. So thank you for everything and cheers – here’s to the next eight years of big boobs!’ Nothing more to say.
32= Christian Rucker, 35
The White Company
After studying fashion design, Christian Rucker’s first job was as an assistant to wedding dress designer Anneliese Sharpe, where she sewed on buttons and made the coffee. She later joined Condé Nast Publications as a receptionist, moving to various jobs on its magazines. At Harpers & Queen, she rose to become assistant health and beauty editor. But she hankered after running her own business and in 1993 started The White Company, a specialist mail-order business selling white bed linen and towels. Rucker was advised by her sister-in-law and her husband, Nick, who runs the Charles Tyrwhitt shirt operation. With a local government grant and the sale of some shares left by her grandmother, Rucker was in business, operating initially from an attic room at home. It was nerve-wracking at first, but after a newspaper article appeared, she was swamped with orders and never looked back. In 2001-02, The White Company’s sales reached just under £15 million.
37= Jonathan Bowie, 37
Glasgow-based Bowie-Castlebank was founded in 1865 when an ancestor of Jonathan Bowie, the current MD, started touring local factories with a wheelbarrow to collect clothes for washing. Today the firm operates nearly 600 outlets nationwide, including Munro Cleaners and Klick Photopoint. Takeovers have helped transform the company, where sales have rocketed from £35 million to £87 million over the past five years.
44= Emma Harrison, 40
Action for Employment
After messing up her A-levels, Emma Harrison went to work in the health service. But after a year she enrolled on a two-year engineering course, which she finished in eight months, and then managed to talk her way onto a Bradford University engineering degree programme sponsored by British Steel. On graduating in 1987, Harrison decided that British Steel was no longer the place for her and went to run her father’s small business training engineers. Four years later, she had built it into a £1 million concern. In 1991, Harrison left her father’s business and started her own outsourcing operation, Action for Employment, or A4E. It outsources a wide variety of services from training, education, recruitment, administration and childcare in both the public and private sector. The Sheffield-based firm has grown into a £30 million business with profits in 2001-02 of
£3.4 million on sales of £35.8 million. Harrison owns most of the shares.
60 Suzanne Marshall, 39
One of Yorkshire’s fastest growing companies, Phoenix Software’s expertise lies in the field of supplying and supporting software volume licensing for local government, the voluntary and corporate sectors, and education. Co-founded by Suzanne Marshall in 1990, it made a healthy £3.3 million profit on £58million sales in 2002.
100 Lindsay Levin, 40
PW White Holdings
After spending two years working for management consultancy Bain & Company, Lindsay Levin joined PW White Holdings, a Surrey-based car dealership founded in 1908 by her great-grandfather. She was 24 at the time and used her skills to turn the then ailing business around. As chairman, she now runs an operation that made £417,000 profit on £90.8 million sales in 2001-02.
sisters of invention
Female entrepreneurs make up nearly 20% of the list. Here are the highest-ranking, excluding the ‘young guns’
19 June Reynolds-Lacey, 50
NSH Techlogistics, the Birmingham-based telecoms company, was started in 1989 by June Reynolds-Lacey. It’s at the cutting edge of wire-free technology, with applications such as remote reading of gas and electricity meters. In 2002, it made a strong £4.4 million profit on £51.8 million sales. But the early days were pretty tough for Reynolds-Lacey. After various jobs, including hotel chef and chauffeur, she started NSH (then called Mobilefone) with a £60,000 loan. Her Jensen Interceptor car was locked up as collateral. Today, she has the Jensen back and a new Bentley to join it on the driveway, such has been the success of the Birmingham business, which is now worth well over £70 million.
31 Karen Millen, 42
Karen Millen Holdings
After a City & Guilds course in fashion at Medway College, Karen Millen set up a sewing machine at her parents’ house and started selling clothes at the fashion equivalent of the Tupperware party. That was in 1981. After a difficult start, where she learnt the pitfalls of manufacturing, she opened a first store in Maidstone. She has never looked back since, and today there are more than 50 stores in Britain. In 2001, she sold a 49% stake in the business to Icelandic investors, but retains a 50% stake through trusts. In 2002, Karen Millen Holdings made a £6.5 million profit on £67.5 million sales.
34= Chey Garland, 46
CJ Garland & Co
Serial entrepreneur Chey Garland started her first business – a debt recovery operation – at 23 with £600 of savings. Today she runs CJ Garland & Co, a call centre operation based in Hartlepool that she launched in 1997. It provides inbound and outbound contact centre services via phone, e-mail and the web. Services range from customer retention and customer acquisition to cross-selling, up-selling, credit management and customer lifecycle management. The company has experienced blistering growth over the past few years and recently opened a new site in Middlesbrough, together with Freeserve; this
will provide the extra capacity needed to meet a growing demand for its services. Garland motivates staff by running an in-house radio station. In 2002, CJ Garland made a profit of £1.4 million on sales of £12million.
47 Perween Warsi, 47
Derby-based S&A Foods was presented with the John Sainsbury Award for Learning and Development at the Institute of Grocery Distribution’s 2003 awards for its unique on-site learning centre, which was opened in October 2002. A sign perhaps of the seriousness with which Perween Warsi, the company’s founder, is taking the future development of her business, which currently produces about 2 million meals a week from its two factories. She started the business in 1986, despairing of finding a decent samosa in her local supermarket in Derby. Instead, she decided to make her own. Warsi has managed to turn that simple idea into a major food firm, employing 1,300 staff. S&A’s profit in 2001-02 was £2 million on sales of £91.4 million.
69 Linda Bennett, 41
Known as the lady who made kitten heels affordable, Linda Bennett followed her father into the handbag business and opened her first shop in 1990. After a course in shoe design, Bennett branched out into designing shoes and clothes. Her reputation helped LK Bennett to sales of more than £20 million in 2001-02.
79 Patsy Seddon, 55
A £3,000 loan from a friend in 1979 enabled Patsy Seddon to open her first clothes shop. Despite her lack of formal training, she repaid the loan within eight months by selling affordable and practical fashion for working women. Financed by her cashflow, she opened a new shop every year and in 1989 moved into designing and making her own range. In 2002 she took on two new partners, Michael and Maurice Bennett, who used to run the Oasis fashion chain. Seddon has stepped down from day-to-day management but she continues to work on design. London-based Phase Eight (Fashion & Designs) is expanding fast and made £1.7 million profit on £19 million sales in the year to January ’03. Seddon retains nearly a quarter of the shares.
84 Lorna Moran, 53
Northern Recruitment Group
In 1976 Lorna Moran started her own recruitment business with £4,000 borrowed from her father. Today, the group recruits primarily for the IT, manufacturing and finance sectors. Growth has been fuelled by the boom in temporary staff. Moran started out selling classified advertising but moved into recruitment when as a single mother she decided she could not afford to be away from home as much as required. Moran has an £11 million stake in the quoted operation, and share sales add another £1 million.
90= Judy Naake, 56
The ‘queen of fake tans’, Judy Naake has even been to Beckingham Palace to give Posh Spice a once-over. Her company is St Tropez and its main holding company, Beauty Source, founded in 1990, is doing nicely. The Nottingham operation made £2 million profit on £13 million sales.
95 Julie Davey, 47
Julie Davey owns Angel Group, a property concern based in London that provides accommodation for asylum seekers around Britain. Operating out of Docklands, the group made a solid £4 million profit on £21.6 million sales in 2002.
97 Jane Cavanagh, 46
After working for Pitman, the book publisher, and then BT, Jane Cavanagh started the SCI computer games company in 1988, floating the London-based operation on the stock market in ’96. Some of its best-selling games include Lawnmower Man, Kingdom O’ Magic and, more recently, The Italian Job. Sales have risen from £8 million to £18 million over the past five years.
At 65+, these entrepreneurs are proof, if any were needed, that initiative and enterprise are not the preserve of the young
49 Harold Martin, 68
HW Martin Holdings
Fencing, traffic management systems and plant hire are obviously lucrative trades, as Harold Martin knows. His Derbyshire-based company, HW Martin Holdings, works for blue-chip clients such as the Highways Agency and HM Prison Service. In the year to June 2002, it made a £1.9 million profit on sales of £32.2 million.
55 Paul Hart, 66
Tap Holdings is a fast-growing management and recruitment consultancy to the engineering industry. Founded in 1998, it has seen its profits soar to £3.1 million on £23.7 million sales in 2001-02. The business, based in London’s Harley Street, is owned by Paul Hart, one of its two directors. On these figures and with its track record, it is easily worth £25 million.
56= John Randall, 74
John Randall bought Kanes Foods for £3 million from its quoted parent in 1990. It was a brilliant deal: in 2001-02, the Evesham-based food processor made £4.6 million profit on £46.4 million sales Randall owns the entire £30 million firm.
61= Dorothy Purdew, 71
Champneys Health Resorts
Dorothy and her son Stephen run a number of upmarket health farms and spas, including the Champneys group, which they bought in 2002 for about £25 million. Profits at the parent company, Champneys Henlow, hit £4.2 million on £22.5 million sales in 2001-02. Champneys, which was losing money before the takeover, is being revived and a flotation of the enlarged group is a possibility.
74= John Guest, 76
John Guest International
After starting work as an apprentice toolmaker at 14, Guest went on to found his own business in 1961. John Guest International is now one of the world’s biggest makers of plastic pipe fittings for the plumbing and car industries. Based at West Drayton, near Heathrow airport, the family-owned operation is chaired by Guest, and his three sons are directors. In 2002, John Guest International made £6.2 million profit on £70 million sales. About 60% of production is exported and the company spends some 10% of its sales figure on capital investment.
76= David Bellis, 66
Oldham’s most successful industrialist, David Bellis owns and runs Innovative Technology. Founded in 1991, the business provides equipment that validates banknotes. It grew sharply with the introduction of the euro, and in 2002 made a £1.9 million profit on £16 million sales.
81 John Nike, 68
Nike Land Securities
Founded by John Nike in 1968, Nike Land Securities has evolved into a broadly based leisure conglomerate with interests ranging from ice rinks to ski slopes and hotels. Nike, based in the Bracknell area, built his business on the back of popular trends. The ice rink business, for example, was launched at the height of Torville and Dean’s popularity. It seems to have worked. Turnover has risen 83% in the past five years to £64 million.
87 Robert Smallwood, 66
Robert Smallwood runs Acre Products, a Halifax manufacturer of the furniture used in the radio and TV industry. Started in 1973, Acre saw its profits rise to a record £4.9 million on sales of £32.5 million in the year to January 2003.
92= Ifor Williams, 73
Ifor Williams Trailers
Ifor Williams runs Ifor Williams Trailers, a manufacturer of low loaders, horseboxes and livestock trailers. The Clwyd-based business made a hefty £4.9 million profit on £45.3 million sales in 2001-02.
96 Janet Crawford, 69
Angel Human Resources
After a career as a showgirl at London’s Windmill Theatre, where she says she ‘didn’t mind taking her clothes off’, Janet Crawford had to leave the stage at 21 after contracting a lung disease. She went to work for a job agency and helped build it up to 16 branches. In 1965, she started her own company, Angel Human Resources, with a tiny office and ‘lots of mouth’. Today, it is an operation with a £22 million turnover employing 60 staff.