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Newly Public Filofax Company's Stock on Rise

June 23, 1987|VANORA BENNETT | From Reuters

LONDON — Filofax binders, those leather ring-bound notebooks holding everything from a diary to a restaurant guide and metric conversion tables, have become synonymous with success and a high-powered life style.

The paperback-sized holder has become as indispensable as an $800 suit and an expensive German-made car for many media high-fliers and whiz kids of the financial world.

The company that produces the ultimate appointment and address book is doing such good business that it went public in London in April, and owner David Collischon expects to make $3.49 million from the flotation.

In the seven years since Collischon bought Norman & Hill--the company that first manufactured the product--for $16,200, Filofax sales have soared from about $162,000 to more than $10.9 million, with only minimal advertising.

"Our sales have risen by som e thing like a multiple of 20 since 1980," Collischon said.

But one person who will not be cashing in is Grace Scurr, the woman who brought the idea to Britain and registered the brand name here during the 1920s.

No Regrets on Selling Stake

The former shorthand typist, now 93, said recently she does not regret selling her 15% stake in the company for $2,430 five years ago.

Filofax was born after Scurr persuaded her company, Norman & Hill, to manufacture the simple personal filing systems in Britain.

She got her inspiration years ago from seeing the company import similar systems from the United States--where Filofax and its look-alikes are now trendy items in stylish boutiques and department stores--and suggested Norman & Hill patent its own.

Scurr registered the brand name Filofax in 1930, when clergymen and army officers were the most frequent buyers.

The product, which is simple and cheap to make, retails in Britain at about $65 for the outside cover and about $33 for the hundreds of extras available to fit inside.

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