Britain’s mid-market export stars celebrated

6th October 2020

The owners and directors of Britain’s 200 mid-market private companies with the fastest-growing international sales were recognised at our 11th annual Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 awards, held yesterday as an interactive virtual event, with keynotes from Clare Gilmartin, chief executive of Trainline, and James Watt MBE, co-founder of BrewDog. Six companies won prestigious awards. 

The annual Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 awards event brought together the founders and directors of the UK’s mid-market private companies with the fastest-growing international sales over the past two years, published on 16 Feb with the awards postponed until now. Pre-Covid-19, the companies grew their overseas sales by between 29% and 412% pa over their last two years to a combined £10.3bn.

Special awards were sponsored by HSBC UK, DHL Express and Oracle NetSuite (see below).

Guests & sponsor welcome

290 guests attended the interactive virtual event, including founders and senior directors from star alumni, such as Caffè Nero, Cult Beauty, Gymshark, Lush,, Princess Yachts and THG.

Guests were welcomed by Jane Galvin, head of corporate banking at title sponsor HSBC UK, who said:

“The International Track 200 awards are designed to celebrate and recognise the success of businesses that take everything that brilliant about the UK and spread it around the world.”

Encouragingly, 78% of guests polled were very confident (33%) or confident (45%) about their company’s prospects over the next 12 months.

Keynote speeches

Guests heard from Clare Gilmartin, chief executive of Trainline, and James Watt MBE, co-founder of BrewDog.

Clare described how the rail and coach ticket platform has responded to Covid-19 to still enable travel across 45 countries, as well as life as a public company – it was valued at £1.7bn when it floated last June. She said: “There was no playbook… I’ve been in tech 20 years, but I’ve never had a global pandemic to deal with. Plans have been ripped up and rewritten many times over. Our mission now is to digitise wherever possible.”

They then heard from James, ‘captain’ of BrewDog, which exports craft beer to more than 60 countries and has opened nearly 100 bars from Sao Paulo to Tokyo. Valued at £1bn in 2017, it has featured on International Track 200 for six consecutive years. He told guests: “We’ve completely pivoted our business, we’re carbon negative and we’ve decided to put all of the investable capital we have behind sustainability and make that the main focus of our business going forward.”

Both speakers joined Oliver Shah, business editor of The Sunday Times, for Q&A.

Virtual roundtables & 1:1 networking

Guests had the opportunity to participate in 1:1 video networking calls and joined small virtual breakout discussions to share their thoughts on the challenges and opportunities for mid-market exporters presented by the pandemic, with sponsor representatives facilitating the conversations.

Award winners

Awards compilation video

The six companies singled out to receive special recognition for their achievements were:

  • Charlotte Tilbury Beauty, which runs 11 online stores shipping worldwide and was valued at a £1.1bn in June, when Puig acquired a majority stake, won the Excellence in e-commerce award, sponsored by DHL Express
  • THG, which generated overseas sales of £741m in 2019 and floated on the London Stock Exchange last month and is now valued at £5.8bn, won the Excellence in developed markets award, sponsored by HSBC UK
  • Invenio Business Solutions, which has offices across 11 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Mauritius and India, won the Excellence in emerging markets award, also sponsored by HSBC UK
  • Cult Beauty, which sells 270 beauty brands online and attracts 63m visitors to its website a year, helping it triple exports in two years to £51m in 2019, won the Business leader of the year award, sponsored by Oracle NetSuite
  • Princess Yachts, the Plymouth-based luxury yacht builder which employs 3,000 people and plans to invest £100m in the business over five years, won the Manufacturing excellence award, sponsored by The Sunday Times
  • Reed & Mackay, the corporate travel firm which grew international sales more than 400% a year to a record £16m in 2019, won the Fastest-growing company award, sponsored by HSBC UK

League table award certificates

All companies on this year’s International Track 200 league table received a league table award certificate to recognise their success.

These were shipped carbon-neutrally with the help of main sponsor DHL Express in a goodie box, with gifts from our sponsors and our alumni companies: BrewDog beer, Graze snacks, and Fever-Tree G&T.

Our sponsors

Recognising the achievements of all these companies is made possible by support from our sponsors HSBC UK, DHL Express and Oracle NetSuite.

More information on the league table

The 2021 Sunday Times International Track 200 league table supplement will be published with The Sunday Times in February, with an awards event in May 2021.

For company nominations please enter your details here

For opportunities to meet and build relationships with the founders and directors of these fast-growing private companies, see sponsorship opportunities for International Track 200.

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