Targus hopes to bag award

Independent 100
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The Independent Online
MAKING portable computer bags and associated luggage is hardly an obvious path to riches. But Neil Copp and his team at Targus Group have demonstrated that niches of all sorts can be exploited to great effect, writes Roger Trapp.

The company, based in Sunbury, Middlesex, came 13th in last year's Independent 100, the league table of Britain's fastest-growing private companies compiled by the Independent on Sunday in association with accountant Price Waterhouse. And, with sales still expanding quickly, it hopes to improve on that in this sixth annual listing.

Mr Copp insists that there is no winning formula, but he does attribute the success of the company - whose turnover is approaching pounds 100m in only 14 years of operation - in part to two factors.

First, noting that much of the sales growth comes from overseas, he says the company has a clear approach to its global marketing strategy. "If we deal with Germans, we become Germans," Mr Copp says, meaning that Targus is happy for customers in substantial markets to pay in their own currency.

Second, the company has remained lean and mean. Though staff numbers are due to grow by 10 per cent this year, the head-count will remain well below 100. The result is achieved by streamlining, Mr Copp says. At Targus, everyone has access to him as chairman. Moreover, everybody has clear responsibilities, reducing the need for layers of management. It is a "keep it simple" approach, says Mr Copp. In keeping with it, one of the cardinal rules is that every fax and item of mail received must be answered on the same day. "If someone is sick, someone's responsible to make sure there's no pile-up."

Such principles have helped many other companies to success in past listings of the Independent 100. Now you have the chance to see how your company measures up.

Owner-managed businesses are ranked according to annual compound sales growth over the five years to 30 June 1995. In addition, there is a separate Price Waterhouse Middle Market Award to recognise the achievement of companies that had sales of more than pounds 5m in the first year or more than pounds 15m in the final 12 months.

For an entry form, which must be returned by 1 March, contact Julie Harwood at Price Waterhouse, Southwark Towers, 32 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9SY.