The latest SME Export Track 100 findings: record growth

24th May 2019

Our 5th annual Sunday Times WorldFirst SME Export Track 100 ranking shows that the UK’s private small and medium-sized enterprises with the fastest-growing exports have reported a record rise in overseas sales. Over their last two financial years, exports of the 100 companies rose between 36% p.a. and 360% p.a. from £299m to £833m, a record average growth rate of 89% p.a. — see below for an overview.

For detailed findings download our research report or click the image below for the full supplement  



From furniture designers and fashion brands, to software developers and book publishers, Britain’s exporters are in strong demand worldwide. The companies on our 5th annual SME Export Track 100 are selling abroad at record levels, and Brexit hasn’t curbed their enthusiasm for expansion.

There were 27 companies with triple-digit growth, and 24 harnessing ecommerce to access new customers in international markets. The 100 companies employed 8,900 people, having added 3,000 jobs over two years. To find out more, view the full supplement.


Top of the league

Manchester-based fashion brand Missy Empire, the number one company (pictured on supplement cover above), sells its range of womenswear exclusively online. Endorsements from popular social media stars with global appeal helped its overseas sales rocket by 360% a year to £3.3m in 2019, on total sales of £13.9m.

Founders Ash and Ish Siddique, 38 and 36, made clothing for high street shops at their father’s knitwear factory before launching their own business in 2014. The brothers have leaned on their textile background to turn around new products quickly, keeping ahead of online trends and helping pioneer the emerging industry of “fast fashion”.


Focus: Emerging markets

While Britain’s traditional trading partners of Europe, North America and Australia remain key export destinations for this year’s league table companies, less developed markets are growing in importance. More than two fifths (43) of the companies cite an emerging or less developed economy as a key market.

Examples include British Medical Auctions (No 35), which sells used hospital equipment such as x-ray machines to medical centres in India and Pakistan; and Welland Power (No 96) which makes diesel generators and supplies them to police stations and schools in Bangladesh, Kenya and Sri Lanka; and Joe & Seph’s (No 36), which sells its high-end popcorn to luxury hotels in the Middle East.


Brexit survey

The UK was scheduled to leave the EU on 29th March 2019, in the middle of the research period. Fast Track conducted a survey asking the companies whether the uncertainty surrounding Brexit had made them more cautious about entering a new overseas market.

  • 90% said it had not made them more cautious
  • 10% said it had made them more cautious

Key concerns about the broader impact of Brexit on business included exchange rate fluctuations increasing production costs and difficulty in hiring skilled EU nationals. Some exporters reported that the devaluation of the pound had helped generate higher revenues.


Detailed research findings 

Detailed research findings are covered in our 27-page research report — please click below to download.

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National awards dinner

We look forward to welcoming the founders and directors of the SME Export Track 100 companies to this year’s invitation-only networking awards dinner in September, with fantastic guest speakers from Britain’s leading export stars:

  • Al Barratt, co-founder and chief executive of Grenade – the sports nutrition brand which featured on SME Export Track 100 in 2016 and 2017, and debuted on its sister league table International Track 200 this year with overseas sales of £11.5m;
  • Adam Minto and Tom Allsworth, co-founders and joint chief executives of Revolution Beauty, the cosmetics brand that sold 60m make-up products to 143 countries last year and featured on International Track 200 with overseas sales of £41.8m.

See last year’s event video.



Our sponsors

Recognising the achievements of all these companies is made possible by our sponsors: WorldFirst, our title sponsor for a first year; and our main sponsors DHL Expressand Heathrow.

For opportunities to meet and build relationships with the founders and directors of the UK’s private SMEs with the fastest-growing international sales, contact us about becoming an awards dinner sponsor for SME Export Track 100.








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