Cleco raises the standard

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The Independent Online
BEING A standard bearer for the British engineering industry is, Trevor Pemberton admits, "bloody hard work". Nevertheless, while many around it have failed, his company, Cleco, has prospered.

Turnover has multiplied, from pounds 7m to about pounds 25m in the past five years. Some 250 staff are now employed at the only British company still in the rapidly expanding business of installing automated warehousing systems for blue-chip companies in Britain and overseas.

The performance of this privately-owned firm in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, is typical of the businesses that are thriving as quoted companies take centre stage. For the past five years, the Independent on Sunday has built up a picture of this expanding sector by compiling a league table of Britain's fastest-growing private companies in association with Price Waterhouse, the accountants.

Later this spring, we will publish the sixth annual listing, and Cleco may well be in it. Founded in the 1930s as an engineering company Cleco was set on its current course after Mr Pemberton joined the organisation as a director in the early 1980s. He said: "About six or seven years ago we decided that automation was a strategy we wanted to use. We have put in a lot of installations since then."

In recent years large projects have been completed for household names such as Cadbury, United Biscuits and Glaxo. There have also been similar assignments in Europe, most recently in Spain and in the Netherlands.

If your company has a similar story to tell it could be in the running for a place in the Independent 100 or the Price Waterhouse Middle Market Award, which chart the growth of private companies over five years.

For an entry form, write to Julie Harwood at Price Waterhouse, Southwark Towers, 32 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9SY and return it by 1 March.