The refurbishment of his three butcher shops gave Simon Howie the idea for a new business.

A year later, in 1992, the passing thought became a reality in the shape of Shore Laminate Fabricators. Today it is a multi-million pound business employing 32 people, and gaining contracts throughout the UK.

''When I was looking for laminated panels for the butcher shops I discovered that there was a

limited number of producers and suppliers, and began to think that perhaps there was a gap in the market,'' Howie explained.

Then only 22-years old, he

rented 10,000 sq ft premises in

the harbour area of Perth, hence the company name, and invested #40,000 in machinery and


Initially the company employed five people, and its customers were mainly small shopfitters, but Howie was determined to expand the business and began to target contractors with major construction projects.

In 1995 Shore Laminates made what he considers was a quantum leap, winning contracts to supply laminated products for use in the new International Terminal at Glasgow Airport and also the Scottish Provident head office.

The following year, Shore

Laminates purchased a nine-acre site at Friarton Bridge Park on the outskirts of Perth. He used three acres of it to build a 29,000 sq ft factory.

''Buying the land and building the factory was a #600,000 investment, and we spent another #400,000 on machinery.''

The investment has paid off on two fronts. Shore Laminates' turnover last year hit #2.3m, and in the current financial year Howie expects it to rise to #3m.

At the same time he has found two tenants for the remaining six acres of the site, and Shore Laminates now owns three further small industrial sites in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow, all of which are fully allocated.

This year the company has completed the contract to supply laminated products for the redevelopment of Hampden football stadium, although Howie smiles wryly when he admits that he is among the many contractors and suppliers who have not yet been paid.

''We finished supplying our products to a contractor working on Hampden two weeks before the Scottish Cup Final, but we have not been paid because our client has not been paid. Thankfully we do not have a lot of

bad debt.''

Shore Laminates' products are also to be found in Celtic Park, Ibrox and St James's Park (home to Newcastle United) stadiums.

Recently it gained two contracts at Edinburgh and Bristol airports worth almost #500,000.

Howie also has high hopes for Wetwall, a product used in domestic bathrooms, which the company developed jointly with Perstorp, a Swedish concern.

''We launched Wetwall in 1996 and it is doing very well. We are now hoping to get it into DIY stores which would be a tremendous boost,'' he said.