Companies that have a global reputation and are lauded for their management excellence stand at the top of the Solent 250 list.
At number one, Fitness First is the largest privately-owned health club group in the world with more than 430 clubs, and 1.2 million members in 15 countries.
With 10,000 employees, the Pooleheadquartered group has had a tough year, and is planning to use a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) to give it headroom to sell off some sites and restructure the business.
Fitness First began with just one club, in Bournemouth, in 1993. It is now backed by private equity firm BC Partners. With £636 million sales, it remains at number one in the list.
University of Southampton is again at number two. With a 4% increase in sales to £437m, the university reports that its income continues to outgrow expenditure, yielding a surplus for the year of £15m.
At number three, up from seven the previous year, Micheldever Group is an example of how a local company offering a local service can grow to become the largest of its kind in the UK – in Micheldever’s case, the largest independent wholesaler and retailer of tyres.
It was five years ago that the company founder sold Micheldever to a new management team headed by Paul Fox Graphite Capital and RBS. Since then, the group has been on the acquisition trail, and its sales for the year-ended March 31, 2012, jumped to nearly £335m.
The Solent 250 is sponsored by Santander Corporate Banking, business adviser Grant Thornton and law firm Paris Smith. Now in its third year, the listing, run by The Business Magazine, has become an eagerly awaited event for companies in the south.
This year’s total turnover of £11.1 billion is slightly up on last year’s £10.9b, suggesting that the top 250 companies are at least generating healthy sales, even if profit margins might inevitably be squeezed.
The 250 companies together employ nearly 83,500 people – making a major contribution to the region’s economy and to its employment base. This month, a Solent 250 dinner for invited guests will be held at Lainston House, near Winchester.
Our special guest speaker at the event on November 22 is Dame Wendy Hall, who has been named as the second most influential woman in IT in the
UK*. Dame Wendy, who advises the prime minister as a member of Downing Street’s Council for Science and Technology, is a major force in IT, and
works alongside the founder of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee.
Dean of Physical and Applied Sciences at the University of Southampton, Dame Wendy has held many leadership roles in both private and public sectors. She says: “Scientists and engineers are the future – innovation is based on it – and we have to get young people to want to work in that world and not just use theresults of it.“
Managing director of the Web Science Trust, she was also recently appointed to the board of Idox plc. One of the first computer scientists to undertake serious research in multimedia and hypermedia, she has been at its forefront ever since.
The influence of her work has been significant in many areas including digital libraries, the development of the Semantic Web, and the emerging research discipline of web science
You can download a copy of the Solent 250 list 2012 here
* Poll published by Computer Weekly