The difficulty in deciding how to categorise a company is illustrated by Sussex-based Trifast. It started as a distribution company selling industrial fastenings in the 1970s. By 1980, it had begun to manufacture, rather than buy in some products. Engineering laboratories have also been added.
Group marketing manager Keith Gibb says that ‘60% of our turnover is now for single-source suppliers, where we totally control their inventory’.
Trifast floated on the stock exchange five years ago, and now has a turnover around £79m. Under the Standard Industrial Classification code, the company is a manufacturer.
‘But in the FT share index, Trifast plc comes under distribution,’ says Gibb. ‘Neither is a true reflection of what we do.’