A private dinner, held at Lainston House Hotel near Winchester, has marked the fourth year of the Solent 250 list run by The Business Magazine, and sponsored by Santander, Grant Thornton and Paris Smith.
Topping the list, which was published last month, is broadcast and communications specialist Arqiva with £831.7 million annual sales – a figure it aims to boost beyond £1 billion by 2015. Invited diners at the event heard a fascinating talk by the company’s managing director Steve Holebrook. “Though topping the list of private independent businesses in the region, few people fully realise the scope of this company’s involvement in all our lives,” said The Business Magazine’s publisher David Murray, on introducing Holebrook. “Despite Arqiva’s having 2,000 employees (700 at its Winchester headquarters), it was a best-kept secret for most people outside the telecoms and broadcast industries.” Poole-based health and fitness provider Fitness First comes in second on the listing, followed by the University of Southampton in third. “The Solent 250 data shows businesses are building revenue,” Murray revealed, “with cumulative turnover up to £11.94b from £11.1b last year. Together the 250 companies employ 82,000 people, and make a significant contribution to the economy of the south.” And some, Murray added, show exceptional qualities that have caught the judges’ eye over the past year, making them our award-winning ‘Ones to Watch’. The five awards and deserving winners were:
Owner-Managed Company of the Year
Presented by Paris Smith Winner: Adams Morey (Solent 250 number 30) Adams Morey specialises in commercial vehicle sales – both new and used vans and trucks. Employing almost 300 people the company, founded in 1952, is now set to double its turnover within three years having moved from £48m to £80m by the end of 2012, and continuing to grow this year.
Investor in the Community Award
Presented by Paris Smith Winner: Fat Face (Solent 250 number 13) Havant-based Fat Face is best known as an active lifestyle clothing and accessories retailer but through its Fat Face Foundation it promotes environmental and charitable activities which support several worthy organisations throughout the Solent area, including the RNLI, Groundwork, Jubilee Sailing Trust, and the Marine Conservation Society.
Best ‘Breakthrough’ Business
Presented by Santander Winner: C4L (Solent 250 number 236=) The fast-growing company, C4L (Connexions for London), is a data centre, connectivity, cloud and communications provider with access to 100 data centres in the UK and more than 300 globally, as well as a private 1-100Gb fibre-optic network. (You can read our Entrepreneur Profile of Matt Hawkins here)
International Business Growth Award
Presented by Grant Thornton Winner: Lymington Precision Engineers (Solent 250 number 47) Justifiably proud of its ‘Made in Britain’ credentials, Lymington Precision Engineers has been a leading manufacturer of precision-machined components, fabrications, assemblies and kit sets for the oil and gas, telecommunications, aerospace and defence, land and sea systems, nuclear and marine industries for over 30 years.
Sustained Growth Award
Presented by The Business Magazine Winner: Liquid Friday (Solent 250 number 60) A Sunday Times Fast Track 100 company for the second year in a row and NVQ Employer of the Year for Hampshire, Liquid Friday was built from scratch in 2006 by 35-year-old founder Phillip Venn to achieve today a £46m turnover (July 2012) with the £60m turnover horizon well in sight. (You can read our Entrepreneur Profile of Phillip Venn here)
Solent 250-listed companies are:
• Private, independent businesses
• Trading in the Solent, with their main headquarters located in the region
• Universities are included, although it is accepted that some of their income is derived from the public purse
•The Solent region is defined as most of Hampshire (south of Basingstoke) and parts of Dorset, Wiltshire and West Sussex.
• Listed companies (either LSE or foreign stockmarkets) are excluded
• Companies that list their registered office in the region, but don’t trade from that address, are excluded
• Companies that are foreign-owned are excluded.
Photography: Philip Hardman