Little time left to join the best

THERE ARE only a few days left for companies to sign up to take part in this year's annual Independent on Sunday/Price Waterhouse search for Britain's fastest-growing companies.

The survey, now in its fifth year, ranks firms by their annual compound sales growth over a five-year period starting in 1990. Since its introduction, the Independent 100 has established itself as a performance indicator for growth companies and each year brought more applications. The growth of this sector, even in recession, has led to rising recognition of its importance in the creation of jobs and wealth.

In addition to the Independent 100, there is a separate award in the category of the top 50 Middle Market companies, devised by Price Waterhouse, the firm of accountants and advisers which compiles the rankings. Designed to mark the achievement of firms that keep growing although already substantial in size, it is open to companies with sales of at least £5m in the first of the five years or turnover of at least £15m in the last of the five years.

If you think you have what it takes to be a star of the future, you might want to set yourself against the typical high flyer identified by Nigel Crockford, the Price Waterhouse partner for growth companies, in a survey of last year's Independent 100 and Middle Market 50 listings.

Key success factors were: 1) a university education; 2) starting young; 3) focus on product quality, satisfying customers and, even more important, teamwork and the building, retaining and leading of a management group; 4) appointing a non-executive director; and 5) regular financial management information.

For an application, contact Julie Harwood at Price Waterhouse, Southwark Towers, 32 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9SY. (Tel 071-939 3000). Forms must be returned no later than Friday, 24 February.

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