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John Caudwell was running a used-car lot in the 1980s when he tried to buy a mobile phone and discovered the discounts that are available to bulk buyers. He founded Caudwell to move into the market. It took eight months to sell the first 26 phones, but now he sells more than £1 billion worth of mobile phones a year, many through his Phones4U chain. In 2001 the Stoke-on-Trent group made an operating profit of just £24m on sales of £1,404m and had 4,370 staff.

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Company details
CompanyCaudwell Holdings
ActivityMobile phone retailer
Sales £m1,404
Profit £m24
Year endDec 01
Principal shareholdersJohn and Brian Caudwell (95%)

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* Supplied by company † Annualised figure **Estimated