Fast Track 100
Fast Track 100
Fourteen companies from the Midlands have earned places on the 16th annual Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100, which ranks Britain’s privately-owned companies with the fastest-growing sales over the last three years.
The 14 companies headquartered in the Midlands on the league table (compared to 17 last year) have made a strong contribution to the local economy, despite the tough economic conditions. They have combined sales of £355m and employ 1,250 staff, having added 970 jobs in the last three years.
The region’s highest-ranked company is home shopping jewellery retailer The Genuine Gemstone Company, which is ranked in the top three nationally. Based in Redditch, it was set up in 2008 by serial entrepreneur Steve Bennett. Bennett’s first high-profile venture, Software Warehouse, was on the Fast Track 100 for three consecutive years between 1997 and 1999, before he sold it for £37m in 2000. Partly as a result of acquisition, Genuine Gemstone’s sales soared 245% a year, from £1.3m in 2009 to £54.5m in 2012.
Two Coventry-based companies, online retailer BathEmpire.com and leather car seat manufacturer Automotive Trim Developments have made it onto the league table for the first time. Another firm based in Coventry, safety products manufacturer Sprue Aegis, has made its fifth consecutive appearance on the Fast Track 100, a record achievement for a Midlands company. Led by chairman Graham Whitworth and co-founder Nick Rutter, it makes smoke and carbon-monoxide alarms, and sells its products in Tesco and B&Q. Last month, it won a contract to supply British Gas with bespoke carbon-monoxide alarms.
The Midlands firms feature on the league table alongside companies from around the UK, including household names such as Ella’s Kitchen, GO Outdoors, Hunter Boot, Wiggle and Jamie’s Italian.
The Fast Track 100 is sponsored by Virgin, Barclays, and RSM Tenon. It is compiled by Fast Track, the Oxford-based networking events and research company.
Sir Richard Branson of Virgin, which has been the title sponsor of the league table for all 16 years, commented:
“The tough economic conditions of the last few years have continued throughout 2012. Despite the positive feelings and boost provided by the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London, the UK’s recovery has been slow and uneven this year. Against this backdrop, the Fast Track 100 companies have performed especially well, growing strongly and creating all important jobs.”
The National Picture
This year’s Fast Track 100 companies achieved, on average, sales growth of 89% a year over the last three years of available accounts, from combined sales of £504m in 2008/09 to £2.7bn in 2011/12. They more than quadrupled their combined workforce to 14,000 over the three years, with more than 10,500 jobs being added over that period.
Despite the tough economic conditions, more than half (59) of the companies have improved operating profit margins over the last three years, and 51 made profits of more than £1m.
Notable industry groups include consumer goods, which represent more than a fifth (21) of the league table and feature companies such as footwear designer Fitflop and online sports retailer Wiggle. This industry group has combined sales of £960m and employs 3,800 people. The food and drink industry also features strongly with 15 companies on the league table, such as Côte Restaurants and brewery BrewDog. This industry group has combined sales of £290m and employs 3,600 people.
Twenty companies are engaged in manufacturing, including those that outsource manufacturing to third parties, generating sales of £540m. At least 13 companies manufacture some of their products in the UK, such as household goods maker Joseph Joseph and children's travel products designer Trunki.
The majority of companies on the league table are headquartered in London (30) and the southeast (24). Of the remainder, 14 are based in the Midlands, ten in the northwest, six in the southwest, six in Scotland, five in the northeast and Yorkshire, two in the Channel Islands, two in Wales and one in Northern Ireland.
The full league table is published in a six-page broadsheet supplement within the business section of The Sunday Times on 2 December, both in print and on the iPad/tablet edition, and on www.fasttrack.co.uk.
CREDIT: THE SUNDAY TIMES VIRGIN FAST TRACK 100