The 16 companies headquartered in the South East (compared to 17 last year) include eight new entrants to the league table. Their sales have grown by an average of 70% a year over three years to a total of £643m, and together they employ 2,710 people.
The region’s top-ranked company is Hackwood Homes, which ranks 11 nationally. This Basingstoke-based construction company builds retirement homes across the south of England. The business more than doubled its sales to £24m last year, and says it has an order book worth £90m.
Hackwood features on the league table for the first time. Other new entrants include raw pet food manufacturer Nutriment, based in Surrey. Managing director Suzanne Brock, 46, re-mortgaged her house and used a loan from her mother to start the firm in 2013, and sales hit £5.5m this year. Wedding dress retailer Wed2b also makes its debut. Set up in 2009 by husband-and-wife team Todd, 44, and Jenny Cassidy, 40, the Milton Keynes firm has grown to 27 stores and sales of £15.1m in 2017.
The companies in the southeast appear with businesses from around Britain, including restaurant chains Five Guys and Leon, fashion retailer Missguided, and brewer BrewDog, which was valued at £1bn in April. Past stars include mixer drinks maker Fever-Tree, which floated in 2014 and is now worth £2.3bn, and innocent drinks, which sold a majority stake to Coca-Cola in 2013, valuing the company at £440m.
The Fast Track 100 is sponsored by Virgin, Barclays, BDO, BGF and Virgin Media Business, and is compiled by Fast Track, the Oxford-based research and networking events firm.
Sir Richard Branson of Virgin, the title sponsor for all 21 years, said: “Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of the economy; driving innovation, creating jobs and challenging industry norms. The achievements of the companies on this year’s Fast Track 100 list are fantastic. It’s clear over the coming years UK business will have to adapt to different conditions and we must do all we can to support our entrepreneurs – who will be the engines of growth for Britain.”
Private companies in the South East with the fastest-growing sales – ordered by county
|HQ location and county||Rank [2016 rank]||Company Activity||Annual sales growth over 3 years||Sales £m||Staff||Year end‡||Comment|
|High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire||15 ||GreenTech Distribution
Mobile phone recycler and distributor
|105%||*160.2||28||Feb 17||Supplies mobile devices to customers including Microsoft, Apple and Carphone Warehouse|
|Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire||18||Wed2b
Wedding dress retailer
|100%||*15.1||348||Jul 17||Its wedding dresses start at just £99|
|Chelmsford, Essex||30||Big Cars
|76%||33.9||42||Jan 17||Has sold £50m of cars since 2009 thanks to social media|
|Colchester, Essex||34 ||BULK POWDERS
Sports nutrition brand
|72%||23.2||95||Dec 16||Its whey protein is used by athletes including the Olympic diver Tom Daley|
|Basingstoke, Hampshire||11||Hackwood Homes
Property and land developer
|115%||*24.0||91||Oct 16||Founders apprenticed at the same builder at the same time but did not meet until years later|
|Fair Oak, Hampshire||25||Bargate Homes
|86%||36.4||37||Sep 16||Has used 9m bricks and planted 1,900 trees since building its first home in 2007|
|Lyndhurst, Hampshire||68 ||Home Grown Hotels
Boutique hotel operator
|55%||17.1||386||Dec 16||Its menu can change daily, depending on what the “kitchen gardener” suggests|
|Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire||73||Vanarama
Van leasing broker
|54%||39.1||151||Dec 16||Its catchy adverts are broadcast on Sky Sports, BT Sport and Dave|
|Hitchin, Hertfordshire||83 ||Lintbells
Pet nutritional supplements maker
|52%||*9.8||53||Dec 16||Works with UK universities to develop its pet supplements, which are sold in 15 countries|
|Maidstone, Kent||88 ||Watchfinder
Pre-owned watch retailer
|51%||*85.8||180||Mar 17||Has sold £350m-worth of pre-owned timepieces|
|Tunbridge Wells, Kent||99||Atom Group
Alcoholic drinks distributor
|46%||*34.0||188||Sep 17||Customers can design their own spirit-filled Advent calendar|
|Maidstone, Kent||100||Chartway Group
Housebuilder and contractor
|46%||68.6||117||May 17||Provides one-stop construction services to clients including housing associations|
|Leatherhead, Surrey||33||Touch Associates
Event communications agency
|72%||27.7||69||Dec 16||Uses technology and digital content to encourage audience participation at its events|
|Camberley, Surrey||42 ||Cennox
Banking automation services provider
|68%||43.7||496||Dec 16||Supplies some of the largest global banks with cash machines|
Raw pet food manufacturer
|63%||*5.5||35||May 17||Produces more than 180 tons of raw pet food each month|
|Guildford, Surrey||60 ||Giggling Squid
|59%||*18.4||397||Mar 17||Secured its first site in Hove for £1 in 2009|
‡ Financial year end of latest available accounts * Supplied by company
The national picture
This year’s Fast Track 100 achieved, on average, sales growth of 65% a year over three years to a total of £3.9bn. Together they employ 19,300 staff, having added 14,000 jobs over the period.
The dominant region for company HQs is London (34), followed by the southeast (16). Of the remainder, 13 companies are based in the Midlands, 11 in the northeast and Yorkshire, 11 in the northwest, five in Wales, three each in the East of England and southwest, and two each in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The full league table is published on 3 December as a 10-page supplement with the business section of The Sunday Times both in print and in the digital edition, and on www.fasttrack.co.uk