Deloitte Indy 100: Film Star

One CCTV business has seen its profits go through the roof. Tim Webb meets the entrepreneur who's keeping an eye on us all
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The Independent Online

Next time you get on a tube, bus or plane, smile, because you are probably being filmed by one of Anglo Design Holdings' cameras.

Next time you get on a tube, bus or plane, smile, because you are probably being filmed by one of Anglo Design Holdings' cameras.

The winner of this year's Deloitte/Indy 100 competition provides CCTV equipment to London Underground, airlines and businesses across the globe. Its turnover in its first year in 1998 was £930,000. Last year, it recorded a figure of £73m.

But Mike Newton, chairman and owner of the group, is not about to put his feet up. He wants AD Holdings to become the number one manufacturer of CCTV security systems in the world, a position currently occupied by US conglomerate Honeywell.

Mr Newton, a computing science graduate from Manchester University, started out in business in 1982, when he was 22. He "begged and borrowed" £6,000 from friends and family to start up a CCTV equipment manufacturer called Dedicated Micros, from which AD Holdings was formed five years later. "They have enjoyed a good return on their investment," he concedes wryly.

AD Holdings has benefited from business and governments' increased focus on security, especially in the aviation industry, after the terrorist attacks of 11 September.

In the year to June 2003, the group's turnover increased by over 40 per cent from £49m in the previous year, although this was partly due to an acquisition.

Its products include cameras fitted to the underside of planes to detect any tampering while they are parked on a runway before take-off.

It also makes the cameras which are used on board all flights now to monitor any suspicious behaviour. The images can also be used in court as evidence of any air rage charges.

Mr Newton denies that the group is profiting from heightened fears of terrorist attack.

"September 11 was not an instant meal ticket," he says. "Governments promised a lot of cash for airlines to upgrade their security but in many cases this has not been forthcoming."

The UK is the only country to fully comply with new safety recommendations, he says, which for example require airline crew to only ever open the cockpit door from the inside using a specially fitted camera, which the group makes.

He also insists that AD Holdings has not jumped on the aviation security bandwagon.

"Within our aerospace subsidiary we have been working on aviation cameras since 1992. If people had listened to us sooner that there was a need for these cameras then chances are that September 11 would not have happened. People can't level this charge after the event," he says.

Its aerospace division makes up a tiny, but growing part of its business. Most of its sales come from making security monitoring equipment like CCTV cameras for businesses, shops and buses. As well as this, it also makes smoke detection equipment and leases private jets.

AD Holdings has a 36 per cent stake in Dedicated Micros, which also manufactures CCTV equipment. The group bought the stake back from private equity group 3I. Mr Newton is not looking to cash in by floating the group on the stock market. He says he doesn't need the money to expand the business.

"We have performed better as a private company than with the investment of institutional investors. There is no real need to raise cash from ipos, we are already generating cash and capital."

As for the future, he is keeping tight-lipped. There is no "five year plan" to complete, he says, adding that the group has had a "series of approaches" from potential buyers. He is not interested - yet.

"Everything in this life has a price," he says.

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