The world economy is going through seismic changes.
In the UK, Brexit is perhaps the most visible and pressing challenge, but it would be wrong to categorise it as the only one.
Technology is changing the way businesses operate. And, as the innovation of today becomes the normal of tomorrow, business leaders are spending more resources on understanding how technology will affect them and how they can harness it for growth.
The emergence of new markets as well as political and regulatory changes are affecting the way businesses deal with suppliers, customers and wider stakeholders.
Yet despite all of this, in the four years we have sought out the top performing companies in the central south’s mid-market we have consistently found businesses that are thriving. It has been said that uncertainty is the enemy of business, but at BDO we are optimists, and where there’s change we also believe there’s opportunity. It seems our region’s mid-sized companies – its economic engine – feel the same way.
There are plenty of examples in the central south of companies finding success despite the challenges. Businesses such as electronics manufacturer, Blakell Europlacer, which has strengthened its global presence in recent years and whose China operations are growing at their fastest rate. Perpetuum, a world leader in railway safety technology, is another great example which has seen international sales increase in India and Australia amidst the global uncertainty.
Malcolm Thixton, lead partner at BDO in Southampton said: “As we reach the culmination of this year’s campaign we are excited to announce our three finalists for the Central South Mid Market Company of the Year. Operating in very different sectors they typify the huge diversity of businesses in this region – a key factor in its enduring resilience over the past decade and which we believe leaves it strongly placed to tackle whatever happens in the next few years.”
However, policymakers have an important role to play in navigating these unprecedented changes to ensure the UK overall remains a great place for doing business. Just after the UK voted to leave the EU, BDO proposed 22 policies that we believed would help create a post-Brexit ‘new economy’. Following consultation with our clients, policymakers and our people, we recently honed this list down to five key policies designed to support midsized entrepreneurially-spirited businesses and enable the UK economy to thrive.
These include simplifying tax to make doing business easier; investing in smart infrastructure; tackling the UK skills gap by reinstating the two-year post-study work visa; increasing the UK’s wealth by addressing our productivity puzzle and creating new streams of patient capital to support entrepreneurs.
In the short term though, the UK’s and the central south’s success will be driven by those businesses that are led by far-sighted individuals and strong management teams willing to take a risk by investing in new systems, processes and people and in some cases by disrupting the market. These will be the bedrock of our ‘new economy’ and our three finalists for BDO’s Central South Mid Market Company of the Year couldn’t be better examples.
Central South Mid Market Company of the Year – The finalists
Imperial Cars ________________________________________________________________
Since its inception in 2004, Imperial Cars has enjoyed a level of success that has enabled it to grow from an ex-petrol forecourt site retailing 80 cars per month to what is now a 14-site national used-car retail operation selling 1,500 cars per month.
Currently the seventh largest used-car retailer in the UK (AM magazine) with an annual turnover of £220 million, projections for 2019/20 are £300m, as recent and planned acquisitions this year deliver additional volume.
Named Used Car Retailer of the Year at the recent AM Awards, Imperial Cars prides itself on its customer service, the quality of its vehicles and how these, and the company, are represented online. ‘We’re open and transparent’ is an often overused phrase but the Imperial Cars website really does deliver on this claim, providing the consumer with everything they need to know about a vehicle – service history, vehicle provenance, preparation information and a plethora of high-resolution images.
The company’s accelerated growth has been overseen by Mike Bell who was appointed as managing director in 2008. He commented: “The success of Imperial Cars over the past few years can be attributed to everyone involved in the business. The dedication and loyalty of all of our 400+ employees have enabled us to thrive and continually improve during challenging economic times.
“The financial support from our commercial partners has always been, and will always be appreciated. Coupled with the continuing success of the business, we have some exciting times ahead, not least the opening of a new corporate head office and a state-of-the-art ten-acre preparation centre in the coming months. I have no doubt that we will deliver, or exceed our turnover target for the next financial year, securing Imperial Cars and our employees’ futures and creating new job opportunities across the group moving forward.”
Just Develop iT __________________________________________________________________
Formed in 2008, Just Develop It is an award-winning investment and finance business based in Fareham, Hampshire. Over the past decade, it has invested in numerous start-ups; initially with a focus on technology, but in recent years the portfolio has diversified to include investments in private aviation, property, finance, and leisure.
Led by CEO, Chris Phillips, who has featured four times in the Sunday Times 30 under 30, Just Develop It’s reach is global. Investments in the USA are some of the strongest performers in the group, meanwhile, technology investment, Protected.net, has customers in over 128 countries – despite being launched just two years ago.
Closer to home, the company also has invested in the central south; a new music festival in Portsmouth, Xclusive Jets; a private aviation business, Skylark Golf & Country Club; JDi Property; a property portfolio comprising over 220 properties around Hampshire; and JDi Finance, a development and asset finance business with over £40m of written and self-funded loans.
It’s not just the portfolio that has grown over the past decade, for the year ending January 2019, Just Develop It recorded a net profit of £29m and surpassed £100m in net equity.
Looking forward, the company will be following the same blueprint. It will continue to innovate and develop consumer-centric technology products while simultaneously growing the property portfolio, expanding the private aviation division, increasing the loan book and seeking to diversify the group.
“At the core of Just Develop It’s success, is a team of tremendously talented individuals who consistently go above and beyond the call duty for the benefit of the company. I could not have done it without them, I thank them all and I’m immensely proud of them,” said Phillips.
PDQ Airspares __________________________________________________________________
PDQ Airspares has established itself as a worldwide leader in flexible consumable solutions for airlines and maintenance repair organisations. PDQ Airspares has nearly three decades of experience in this discerning, dynamic, and ever changing industry. Founded in 1990 from the humble beginnings of a small rural farmland warehouse in the New Forest, its headquarters remain in Fordingbridge, Hampshire, with offices and warehousing now in Poland, USA, Singapore, Dubai and China. With over 1000 customers worldwide providing access to over 250,000 line items of fully certified inventory, including our 24/7 global coverage, reach and accessibility is paramount. PDQ is all about service and flexibility, providing our customers with a no fuss, nothing is too much trouble attitude.
Focusing on the airline aftermarket, and specialising in Boeing and Airbus platforms, PDQ Airspares takes the stress and uncertainty out of consumable management, significantly simplifying procurement procedures and streamlining the supply chain, easing both logistical and accounting burdens across multiple departments and enabling cost savings.
PDQ Airspares success has been driven from the dedication of a 76 strong team of professionals. With expected revenues this year of $38 Million USD, 2018 delivered an outstanding 36% growth and in August last year, PDQ became part of US based Fastener Distribution Holdings (FDH) backed by Audax Private Equity.
Nic Lewis, CEO of PDQ, says “Our success and significant growth over the last two years has been a result of our continued flamboyant individuality. We have always punched well above our weight in an industry dominated by heavyweights. We are excited to join the FDH team as we continue to grow our combined businesses and continue to be committed to delivering the same high level of service and consistency that our customers expect.”