Fitting export tribute

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CONCENTRATION on quality and customer needs has won a family-owned childrenswear company a third consecutive export award, writes Roger Trapp.

Magicwell, which is based in Kentish Town, north London, received the prize, sponsored by National Westminster Bank, from the Princess Royal at last week's annual awards dinner of the British Apparel Association. The Princess is president of the association.

Although it only has a staff of 10, the company founded two decades ago by three brothers from Sudan attributes 80-90 per cent of its turnover to exports. The vast majority of these go to the Middle East, where the company has an office. But it is makingincreasing inroads to continental European markets.

The founders of the company - Robert, Harry and Michael Mirpuri - started in retail before launching their manufacturing business above one of their shops in London's Chapel Market. They then moved to the West End before taking over their present premises, which they are now outgrowing.

Leaving outer garments to other companies, they concentrate on children's underwear. They are also happy to let others compete on price. Instead, they pride themselves on the quality of the products - which are all made in Britain - and the standard of service with which they are delivered.

"If a person asks for something in particular, we'll do everything we can to get it through our close links with a number of factories. In 90 per cent of cases, we succeed," said Harry Mirpuri, production director.

It is the sort of performance that has come to be associated with Britain's thriving private company sector. And to mark the achievement of these companies, which have tended to outperform their quoted brethren through the recession, the Independent on Sunday is once more joining forces with Price Waterhouse to find the best of them.

The listing, now in its fifth year, is based upon annual compound sales growth over the five years to 30 June 1994. To mark the special achievement of continued growth by established companies, there is a separate Price Waterhouse Middle Market Award forbusinesses with sales of more than £5m in the financial year to 30 June 1990 or more than £15m in the year to 30 June 1994.

For an entry form, write to Julie Harwood at Price Waterhouse, Southwark Towers, 32 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9SY. Entries must be returned by 24 February.

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