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Oxford Instruments wins prestigious UK award

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | March 02, 2012
Oxford CEO Jonathan Flint (second from left)
receiving the award
(Credit: Oxford)
Industrial engineering firm Oxford Instruments plc picked up one of the UK's most prestigious awards for mid-sized companies at a gathering attended by hundreds of financial service, PR and media folks last night.

Oxford, probably best known to DOTmed readers for its North American MRI service division, and which acquired Platinum Imaging last year, won the PLC award for best company of 2011.

"It's quite a mark of recognition from the industry," Lynn Shepherd, Oxford's communications director, told DOTmed News.

Sponsored by PwC (formerly known as PricewaterhouseCoopers), the PLC awards began in 1987 and are given out in nine categories to medium or small-sized companies. Hundreds of businesses are eligible, including those on the FTSE 250 index, which Oxford joined in September, a list of the 250 biggest companies on the London Stock Exchange, after the top 100.

Entrants are nominated by the public, largely Financial Times readers, and a panel, made up of people from the industry, public relations groups, financial analysts, investors and the media, Shepherd said. A short list of four nominees in each category is then created, which was announced in January. The winners then found out who they were at the awards dinner, held last night.

"It was a really nice surprise when it was announced," said Shepherd, who attended the ceremony with Jonathan Flint, Oxford's CEO, and other colleagues. "We had many compliments the whole evening."

The other three short-listed companies for the award, sponsored by College Hill Limited, were Croda International plc, a chemicals business, NCC Group plc, a software escrow services company, and Telecity plc, a data center.

This was Oxford's first PLC award, although it was short-listed last year for the best technology award, won this year by Imagination Technologies Group plc. Shepherd credits this year's win in part to how Oxford, founded in 1959, has been received by the City, as London's financial hub is known.

Oxford said the group hit its business goals for the past five years, and is also working on an ambitious plan dubbed "14 cubed': 14 percent return on sales and 14 percent sales growth by 2014. Oxford is wrapping up its first financial year, which closes in March, of the three-year program, and Shepherd said that so far they're meeting expectations.

"In our half year results in November, we said we're on track, and back in January, we gave an interim management statement, an IMS, and [we said] we're still on track," she said.

Oxford's growth strategy has been both organic and acquisitional, with a renewed focus on service, where Shepherd said there's constant revenue and high margins. The purchase of Platinum in November feeds into the plan, she said, as it gave Oxford further access to CT and MRI service markets in North America.

So far, she said, the integration of the new company has been going smoothly.

"It's been going really well. Customers seem to have welcomed the partnership, and I think it's re-energized the service side of the business."

Oxford is headquartered in Abingdon, UK.

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