With average exports growth of between 31% and 228% p.a. over the last two years to a total of £14.1bn, our 10th International Track 200 annual ranking shows the UK’s private mid-market businesses with the fastest-growing exports are beating the Brexit blues— see below an overview. For detailed findings download our research report
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From beauty brands and car makers, to clothing designers and wine sellers, Britain’s exporters are in strong demand across the globe. With Brexit uncertainty at its peak, the companies on our 10th Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 are breaking new records for exports.
The minimum average growth rate to achieve a place was 31% p.a. — a new high for the league table, and almost double that required to feature on the table in 2017. There were 28 companies with triple-digit growth, and online bookmaker bet365 had the highest international sales on this year’s table at £2.1bn. The 200 companies employed 140,000 people, having added 38,000 jobs over the same period. To find out more, view the full supplement.
Top of the league
The number one company, Solihull-headquartered fitness clothing brand Gymshark, has a combined social media following of 80m people and sells its apparel directly to customers in 178 countries through 13 multilingual websites. This global presence helped its overseas sales rocket by 228% a year to £81m in 2018, on total sales of £103.2m.
Founder Ben Francis, 26, (pictured on cover above) set up the company in his parents’ garage in 2012. A weightlifter with an entrepreneurial streak, he spotted a gap in the market for gym clothing and bought a sewing machine for £200. The brand has since gone global under the leadership of chief executive Steve Hewitt, 45.
Focus: Trading in Europe
Despite the prospect of new barriers to trade, Europe remains the top market for future growth identified by these fast-growing exporters: 137 companies are planning to grow their sales there, with North America rated the second main target market (120 companies), and Asia the third (98). At present, 171 companies already cite Europe as a key destination for their exports, ahead of North America (128 companies) and Asia (73).
Examples include Transferwise (No 12: pictured, co-founders Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus), which is planning to open an office in Brussels and apply for a European money-transfer licence so it is not disrupted by a no-deal Brexit; and Windhoist, (No 114), which built the Skovengen Wind Farm, helping Denmark meet its renewable energy goals, and is targeting further expansion in Scandinavia this year.
Fast Track conducted a survey during the research period (August – December 2018) asking the companies about the overall impact the Brexit vote has had on their business. This is the third year that the survey has been conducted.
- The majority (57%, down from 62% last year) said the vote has had no, or a neutral, impact on their business
- 34%, up from 29%, said the vote has had a negative effect on their business
- 9%, the same figure as last year, said the vote has had a positive influence on their business
Detailed research findings
Detailed research findings are covered in our 35-page research report — please click below to download.
In the 10 years since its inception, International Track has featured more than 1,000 companies, many of whom are household names – including Caffè Nero, Specsavers, and Lush – which featured on the first league table in 2010 with international sales of £151m and has since doubled them to £300m.
Some went on to float on the stock market. Fever-Tree first featured in 2011 with overseas sales of £4m; floated in 2014 valued at £154m; and is now worth £3bn. Aston Martin, which was No 166 in 2018, floated the same year and is now valued at £2.8bn.
National awards dinner
We look forward to welcoming the founders and directors of the International Track 200 companies to this year’s invitation-only networking awards dinner.
Our keynote speakers are Dr Pippa Malmgren, a tech entrepreneur, advisor to the UK government on global strategic trends, and former special advisor to the US president George W Bush; and Dr Andy Palmer CMG, president and group chief executive of luxury sports manufacturer Aston Martin Lagonda.
See last year’s event video.
For opportunities to meet and build relationships with the founders and directors of Britain’s mid-market private companies with the fastest-growing international sales, contact us about becoming an awards dinner sponsor for International Track 200.