Neil Cooper runs reader offers for newspapers and magazines in such a way that their proprietors should never receive an angry letter from a customer let down by poor delivery. He had the idea for his business while working at Express Newspapers, where he was asked to increase sales beyond the traditional revenue streams of newspaper sales and advertising. He focused on reader offers, using the newspaper’s name to sell anything from holidays to gardening tools. Cooper says his innovation was to apply marketing skills to an area that had been run by amateurs. He left Express Newspapers in 1994 to set up his own company, The Enterprise Department, to run reader offers for the Glasgow Herald, Yorkshire Post and OK! magazine among others. ‘Our job is to select the right products at the right time and ensure good customer service,’ says Cooper, who pays newspapers a percentage of the resulting sales. He has also set up a separate mail-order business, Coopers of Stortford, which sells anything from kitchen gadgets to bedding through newspaper and magazine advertisements. The combined group has boosted its sales 73% a year from £1.2m in 1997 to £5.9m in 2000, when it had 42 staff.
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