With average sales growth between 46% and 233% p.a. over the last three years to a total of £3.1bn, the 22nd annual Fast Track 100 ranking shows the UK’s fastest-growing private businesses are defying economic concerns — see below an overview and a downloadable detailed research report
Click image to view full supplement
From gin distillers to furniture makers, Britain’s entrepreneurs are a broad church. As the country waits to find out what kind of future Brexit will bring, the companies on the 22nd Sunday Times Virgin Atlantic Fast Track 100 are basing decisions on what they know.
This year’s companies achieved, on average, sales growth of 78% a year over the past three years — and added 12,200 jobs over the same period to a total of 16,900 people.
The 100 firms’ headquarters are spread across the UK. Greater London houses the majority — 34 firms — with 20 in south-east England, 12 in the Midlands and eight each in the northwest and northeast. To find out more, view the full supplement.
Top of the league
The number one company, clinical trials supplier Midwinter Solutions, based in Staffordshire, may not yet be a household name, but with analysts predicting the clinical trials market to be worth $65bn by 2025, that may soon change. Midwinter’s sales have rocketed to £62m with profits of £10.7m in February this year.
The company’s founders, Mark Waters and Ben Everington, met when working for former Fast Track 100 number 1 company Clinigen, which floated on AIM in 2012 and is now worth £1.2bn. An exclusive distribution agreement with Sun Pharmaceutical Industries helped spur Midwinter’s rapid growth, and trade barriers hold little threat for the company – experts in securing safe and efficient passage for drugs across borders, it could be more in-demand than ever in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Diversity in the boardroom
Diversity extends to the boardroom, with 22 female founders or chief executives on this year’s table, a joint record high with last year. While still relatively low, the 12% of founders who are women compares favourably to the 4% in the wider scale-up community, according to the research firm Beauhurst. This year’s entrepreneurs include Marisa Hordern (pictured above) who set up the jewellery brand Missoma (no 4), worn by the Duchess of Sussex; and Prue Freeman, co-founder of cafe chain Daisy Green (no 52), famed for its bottomless prosecco brunches.
Detailed research findings
Detailed research findings are covered in our 30-page research report — please complete the below form to download.
Over two thirds of the companies were set up in the last 10 years. Combined operating profits of the 100 companies were £339m in their latest year 2017/18, up fivefold from £69m three years ago. More than half the companies (56) increased their profit margins over the three years, achieving an average profit margin of 12.5%.
Disruptors to Watch
Our Disruptors to Watch list, now in its third year, aims to highlight 10 companies with disruptive potential from a cross-section of industries, rather than claiming to identify the most disruptive. It takes into account factors such as disruptive potential, the management team and investor credibility, as well as total funds raised. We also canvassed opinions from the founders of three previous finalists: Ali Parsa of healthcare app Babylon Health, our overall winner in 2017; Tom Blomfield of mobile banking app Monzo; and PureGym founder Peter Roberts.
The 10 companies selected this year have raised more than £600m from investors and include Graphcore, which says its computer processors are 10 to 100 times faster than existing products; and autonomous vehicle developer FiveAI which is developing a shared driverless taxi service for Europe’s $400bn transport market. For the full list, see the Disruptors to Watch page.
In the 22 years since its inception, Fast Track 100 has featured 1,558 companies, many of whom became, and remain, household names. ARM Holdings, B&M Retail, Carphone Warehouse, Fever-Tree, AO.com, Hotel Chocolat, ghd and NET-A-PORTER are all Fast Track alumni stars that either went on to float on the stock market or were acquired by other businesses.
Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Group, which has supported Fast Track for all 22 years, stated:
“Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of UK business and have always been the beating heart of positive change. In a climate of uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to recognise those entrepreneurs, like those of this year’s Fast Track 100, who are making the world a better place for everybody.”
While the political and economic trajectory of the next 12 months remains uncertain, these 100 companies seem set to make a valuable contribution to the UK’s future wealth and job market.
National conference and awards dinner
We look forward to welcoming the founders and directors of the Fast Track 100 companies to this year’s invitation-only afternoon conference and networking awards dinner. See last year’s event video.
For opportunities to meet and build relationships with the founders and directors of Britain’s fastest-growing private companies, contact us about becoming an awards dinner sponsor for Fast Track 100.