Business Development, sponsored by HSBC Bank

TO win the Business Development Award 2008 the three finalists will have to demonstrate how their companies, with fewer than 20 employees, have progressed in line with their business plan, as well as showing growth in turnover and profit and in developing

TO win the Business Development Award 2008 the three finalists will have to demonstrate how their companies, with fewer than 20 employees, have progressed in line with their business plan, as well as showing growth in turnover and profit and in developing products or services.

The three finalists are Cambs-PAT (UK) Limited, of Perry, which delivers portable appliance testing for health and safety compliance, ISC Software Solutions, of Huntingdon, which provides operational and financial management programmes, and St Ives-based property company Maxine Lester Residential Lettings, which has won awards in the last two years' competitions.

Cambs-PAT has retained 90 per cent of its customers, while new business attracted has helped to grow turnover from £74,000 in 1974 to nearly £500,000 last year. The company was also a Business Awards finalist in 2005 and 2006.

Although the parent company was founded to deliver compliance testing in commercial and public buildings throughout the UK, it has opened a subsidiary to market villa rentals in Florida.


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ISC SS was created through a management buy-out of a loss-making division of ISC Computers plc. The activity was due to be closed before it was rescued by the husband and wife Laos family that now runs it in a deal with the plc that retains a 20 per cent interest.

It has turned pre-acquisition losses of £350,000 into year one profit of nearly £25,000 and now, in its fifth year, expects to clear £150,000 on turnover expected to total £1.1million after moving into different core markets. Two months ago it opened an office in India.

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Maxine Lester's is one of the newest rental letting agents in Huntingdonshire, and has grown rapidly since it opened almost exactly three years ago. Owner Maxine Lester believes her company has already grown fourth largest in the market with 10 per cent of the total and annual turnover of £350,000 following growth of 85 per cent in the last year, significantly about the 69 per cent target.

But she says that, while the encroachment of estate agents into the residential lettings market in a contracting sales market could have threatened that trend, her company has seen no reduction in market share.

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