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Propeller is tracking its own success.

Byline: John Hill

SPECIALIST inventory tracking firm Propeller Holdings hopes to set up a North East centre of excellence for radio frequency technology in the next three years.

The company supplies inventory control systems such as Pro-Vyda to companies such as Sony, Intersnack and TRW. It hopes to double its turnover to pounds 15m by 2014, and has been boosted in its drive for growth by a pounds 750,000 equity investment from FW Capital.

Chief executive Tony Goodwin said the investment was "fantastic news" for the Peterlee-based company, and would allow it to expand its range of clients in both the UK and internationally. The growth will also see it grow its 26-strong company by around 15 to 20 in the next three years. The company's products include radio-frequency identification technology which helps monitor inventory by detecting movement in and out of an area.

Mr Goodwin said: "While we're continuing to major in the North East, we're starting to get inquiries from places as far away as Australia and the Middle East. This will allow us to grow, and to develop our technology.

"At the moment people are looking increasingly inward in terms of managing their costs.

We're a small business but a growing one, and this investment is going to go a long way to helping us achieve that growth."

FW Capital focused its attentions on the North East 18 months ago and holds the purse strings of the pounds 20m North East Growth Plus Fund, which helps support more established regional businesses. Investments can range between pounds 350,000 and pounds 1.25m in a single round. Dickinson Dees, Crutes and Santis advised on the deal.

The North East Growth Plus Fund is part of the pounds 125m Finance for Business North East Fund. Fund manager Andrew Coles said FW Capital was "impressed" by the number of approaches it had seen from businesses in various sectors, but that manufacturing was "definitely on the rise". FW has provided funding for businesses such as clothing chain John Partridge, creative company Dene Films and security firm Bastion Security. Mr Coles said: "There's definitely still capital about for the right deals. The good deals are getting funding, but we all need to be flexible with how we construct them.

"Maybe in the past it was acceptable to trot out the same deal structures. But the current climate requires a more collaborative approach for all parties. Everyone has a goal, and you need to be more creative to achieve that. FW prides itself in its creativity, but it's something you'll see sector-wide."
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Title Annotation:Business; Opinion, Columns
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 6, 2011
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