Britain’s fastest-growing private companies

News Posted 06/12/17
The 21st annual Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 league table ranks Britain’s private companies with the fastest-growing sales which includes 16 from the South East.

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 [9] 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
Car dealer
76% 33.9 42 Jan 17 Has sold £50m of cars since 2009 thanks to social media
Colchester, Essex 34 [38] 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
Housebuilder
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 [76] 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 [61] 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 [83] 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 [92] Cennox
Banking automation services provider
68% 43.7 496 Dec 16 Supplies some of the largest global banks with cash machines
Camberley, Surrey 50 Nutriment
Raw pet food manufacturer
63% *5.5 35 May 17 Produces more than 180 tons of raw pet food each month
Guildford, Surrey 60 [57] Giggling Squid
Restaurant operator
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

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