The agency that began with belief

In the first of a series of blogs leading up to Target’s 40th birthday on 1 September our Chairman, Colin Spencer, takes a look at key moments in the past decades.


Target is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2017 and as I have been with the business for 23 of those years, I thought that I would take a look at back at some of the events in Target’s history as well as looking at what was happening in the world at the time.


Patrick Wood was the founder and he set up the limited company on 13th Jul 1976, although Target did not start trading until 1st September 1977. Prior to starting Target, Patrick had been working at advertising agency CEAL but, having become frustrated after disagreements with his co-owner, decided to go it alone. He took over the lease of the CEAL building in Bayshill Road as well as several clients, half a dozen staff and so began the life of Target.


The world in 1977 was very different to now. The country was still suffering from the oil crisis of 1973 and was being ravaged by strikes that had emanated throughout most of the 1970s. Economically the UK was on its knees. I was quite staggered to see that at the time the standard rate of income tax was 35%, with a top rate of 83%, and corporation tax was 52%; a significant difference to the standard rates of both taxes today of 20%!


When I spoke to Patrick recently he reflected that credit from the banks was virtually non-existent so he borrowed money from family to help finance the business. However, one important factor stood out for me; Patrick always had the confidence and belief that he would be successful, which is as important now as it was 40 years ago.


I also started my working life in September 1977, as a Commercial Apprentice at a nickel alloy manufacturer in Hereford and quickly became ensconced in the important things in working life such as spoofing to see who bought the coffee and solving the sporting anagram in The Sun. One of my other jobs was to keep watch whilst one of my colleagues had a sleep in the afternoon….no wonder Britain was struggling!


Other events to take place in 1977 were Her Majesty the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, England beating Australia at home to win The Ashes, Red Rum winning his third Grand National, Virginia Wade winning at Wimbledon, Queen releasing “We Are The Champions” and Star Wars becoming a massive hit worldwide.


Technology was so different in those days. Computers were very much in their infancy in 1977 and a fax machine was deemed a luxury. There were no mobile phones or internet so people communicated by speaking to each other with face-to-face meetings, telephone calls or wrote letters; most companies had large typing pools.


It must have been a very brave decision to start a new business in September 1977. Freddie Laker set up his Skytrain business in the same month, but his business did not even last to the end of the decade, whilst 40 years later Target is still very much alive and kicking!