When Danny Rubins became chairman of Westbridge International 21 years ago the trading firm, started in a market stall by his mother after World War II, was a supplier of general goods, such as clothing and food, to traditional wholesale and cash and carry outlets. Rubins began streamlining the company and switched to supplying modern high street stores and mail order firms. The Nottingham company’s new focus on imported designer underwear, swimwear and leisurewear has contributed to its 44% pa profit growth from £1.5m in 1996 to £4.5m in 1999. Sales rose by 24% pa in the same period to £52.4m. A shift towards sourcing goods from Far Eastern manufacturers has also helped margins. The company is exploiting a trend for higher margin branded clothes by taking on the Cosmo range under licence from Cosmopolitan magazine. Its 25 goods departments also supply a wide range of other products, from china and glass to a particularly successful range of gardening products.
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