Speciality Drinks

Brothers Sukhinder and Raj Singh, 51 and 47, founded the company in 1999 to sell whisky through shops and its website, The Whisky Exchange. It now sells 5,000 spirits to trade and retail customers, working directly with 1,000 bars, hotels and restaurants, such as Claridge’s and VOC. It deals in super premium spirits, selling to private collectors, and produces its own brands, such as Elements of Islay. The firm has diversified into events, attracting 5,500 visitors to The Whisky Show in 2018. It has doubled profit in five years, to £11m in 2018, and plans to construct a £25m distillery on Islay in 2020.

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Over 75m users in more than 150 countries use this firm’s email-signature software, which helps companies centrally manage their email signatures and legal disclaimers, and protect their corporate branding. Its customer base includes Sony, Aldi, the BBC and the Government of Canada. In 2016, private equity firm Livingbridge took a 49% stake for £23m, increased to 63% in March 2018. It is a Microsoft Gold Partner, although its products also work on Google’s G Suite. It has offices in the Netherlands and the US, and 75% of its sales are overseas. It is led by chief executive David Ferguson, 58, who joined the firm from Trustpilot last September. Profits more than doubled to £4.6m in 2018.

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Founded in 1988 by CEO Robin Totterman, 58, from a railway cottage in Battersea, this eyewear designer and manufacturer now produces 8m frames annually. Its global HQ is in Bath, and after the 2017 takeover of French manufacturer Killine, it has bases in Portugal, the US, China and Vietnam. It licenses eyewear products for fashion, sports and lifestyle brands, including Superdry, Radley, O’Neill and HYPE, and manufactures white-label products for Specsavers, Vision Express and Walmart amongst others. It also owns the Savile Row eyewear brand. In 2017, Lord MacLaurin, 82, former chairman of Vodafone and chief executive and chairman of Tesco, joined the group as chairman. Last year, earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation grew to £6.2m.

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This flatshare website claims it has 9m registered users in the UK and US, and finds someone a flat mate every three minutes. It operates a freemium model, where the basic service is free, but people with rooms to let and would-be tenants pay to boost the position of their ads and unlock all features, such as the ability to message landlords in the first seven days of a posting. It holds regular ‘speed dating-style’ flat mate evenings in both the UK and US. The company has been expanding in the US, with plans to focus on Boston, Chicago and LA, and this has impacted bottom-line profit growth since 2017. It is led by founder & CEO Rupert Hunt, 44.

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Dairy Partners

Cheese Peelers and Simpsons String Cheese are two of the popular products made at this company’s Gloucestershire and Welsh dairies. The cheesemaker produces mainly mozzarella and mozzarella mixes for takeaway food, especially pizza, exporting to 26 countries in North Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe. Its customers include Zizzi, ASK and Prezzo, as well as Domino’s in the Philippines and Pizza Express in China. The company is part way through a £32m investment programme, and will process 60,000 tonnes a year when it is complete. It expects turnover of £100m in 2019, targeting the growth in Asian demand for dairy products. Co-founders and stepbrothers Robert Peel, 52, and Will Bennett, 43, lead the company.

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NRG Fleet Services

This Lancashire firm provides rental and fleet management services, primarily to the waste and recycling sector, and owns 9% of the UK’s refuse vehicles. It manages 5,000 trucks and has a network of 15 maintenance centres and two body shops. A series of acquisitions under co-founder and chairman Sid Sadique, 55, has enabled it to provide a one-stop-shop service that has won local authority and corporate customers, such as Wiltshire County Council and Travis Perkins. Sales and profits dipped 5% to £86.3m and £6.3m respectively in 2018 as one large customer, Palmer and Harvey, went into administration. However, the group forecasts profit of £9.1m in 2019, benefiting from increased demand for electric commercial vehicles. Its sister business, Electra, has orders for 30 trucks and orders to be confirmed for 70 more in the next two years.

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Burry & Knight

This Dorset family firm owns and operates two holiday parks and three golf courses under the Hoburne brand. Under the Hoburne Developments brand, it also develops residential and commercial properties in the local area, which generated 70% of profit last year. The debt-free company has recently acquired new sites for property development and St Mabyn Park in Cornwall, which has been developed into a hideaway lodge park. It has invested £3.5m in Hoburne Park near Mudeford Quay in the last four years. It has been awarded the Feefo Trusted Service Award, the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence and a 5-star Gold rating by Visit England. The company is led by chairman Rosie Kennar, 62, great grand-daughter of founder John Burry. Profit rose to £4.7m in 2018.

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Beds and Bars

Chief executive Keith Knowles OBE, 59, has built this business from a single bar in Covent Garden after taking over from his father in 1982. The company now runs hostels, bars and pubs in 10 European cities, including Paris, Barcelona and Amsterdam, offering 4,000 beds. It claims a 93% occupancy rate and has recently spent £6.5m refitting its London Bridge site, adding 200 beds. Its Footsteps and Rising Stars staff training programmes have helped it become a platinum level Investor in People – the only hospitality company in the UK to have reached this level. Its brands include the backpacker hostels St Christopher’s Inns and Flying Pig, and Belushi’s, a sports bar and restaurant. Profits rose to £2.8m in 2018.

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OE Electrics

This family-owned Yorkshire firm designs and manufactures charging points, responding to the rise in the use of mobile devices. It also produces cables and cable housing and computer accessories. Its innovative and colourful products, such as patented replaceable/upgradeable USB chargers and wireless chargers that integrate into furniture, can be found in corporate headquarters, cafes, hotels, hospitals, airports and shopping malls. This year, it is launching a patented ‘reversible’ USB connector, allowing USB plugs to be connected either way around. In 2017, the company opened its £9m Wakefield headquarters. Under chairman Richard Hobbs, 76, his son Tim Hobbs, 48, who is technical director, and managing director David Masters, 63, profits hit £3.4m in 2018.

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Ion Science

This Hertfordshire company designs and manufactures sensors and instrumentation able to detect 480 volatile organic and toxic compounds, like benzene and acetone. Its devices are used in the manufacturing, automotive and oil and gas sectors, and in research labs, airports and high-rise buildings. Growth has been driven by the increasing awareness of the environmental harm that can be caused by certain gases, and underpinned by health and safety regulation. China and India are its fastest-growing markets, and 70% of sales are international. Customers include the German government, Chinese metro and international oil companies. Under managing director Duncan Johns, 56, profits have almost quadrupled over three years to £2.9m in 2018.

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