Since appearing on the Profit Track 100 last year, London-based Cannon Avent has had an eventful year. Its Avent baby division took Queen’s Enterprise Awards in international trade and innovation and its new factory in Suffolk was short-listed for the Sterling prize for architecture. Cannon Avent was originally founded to make rubber products, but began to take off in earnest when current managing director Edward Atkin, son of the founder, bought out other members of his family in 1989. He refocused the company on baby feeding products, and established a track record for innovation which has included new bottles, cups, dummies and a breast pump. The success and reputation for quality of the Avent brand baby range, which now make up approximately three-quarters of sales, has enabled the company to charge a premium for its products. Together with economies of scale, this has helped drive up profits 32% a year, from £4.5m in 1996 to £10.2m in 1999, when sales reached £61.4m.
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