You’d think that for a company that exports 70% of its sales, 1997 would have proved a disastrous year. But Yardbrace, a £49m Hull-based company, one of the largest exporters on the league table, used last year to re-evaluate the profitability of its customers. Using an IT system that instantly calculates exchange rate fluctuations and its impact on client orders, it dropped some less profitable customers and scrutinised the margins of others, says managing director, Joe Staton. Clients include the biggest names in the chemicals industry, such as Shell, DuPont, Exxon, and British Petroleum. Established in 1981, its founders were bought out in 1994 via a management buy-in, backed by venture capitalists Close Brothers in return for 43% of the company’s equity.
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