The 2011 Thames Valley 250 was held at Stoke Park & reported in The Business Magazine……..
Business leaders from across the region were on hand at the official unveiling of the 2011 Thames Valley 250, which took place at Stoke Park in July
Praising the achievements of everyone in the room, David Murray, managing director of Elcot Publications and publisher of The Business Magazine, spoke about the “truly significant contribution” their businesses had made to the UK economy.
The impressive combined turnover of the Thames Valley 250 is a staggering £17.2 billion, a figure which he called “extraordinary”.
Sponsored by HSBC bank, Grant Thornton accountants and business advisers, the law firm Blandy & Blandy, and the Thames Valley Innovation & Growth Team, as well as The Business Magazine, the Thames Valley 250 highlights the top independent businesses in the region ranked by turnover.
This year’s Thames Valley 250 list saw a diverse range of organisations across logistics, IT, publishing, car dealers and farming and, for the first time, included universities.
To mark the occasion, two very special guest speakers were invited to talk to the audience. First to do so was Stuart Green, chief UK economist of HSBC, who provided an insight into the state of the global economy and the pressures facing many companies.
Calling the outlook for the UK economy “the most interesting for 30-40 years”, Green used a series of True or False questions to tackle areas such as the rate of recovery which, he said, “continues to disappoint”.
“We should be looking for growth in excess of 3-4% in order to recover the ground lost in the recession and that is a major issue,” said Green. “This year our growth prospects stand at 1.2% and 1.6% for 2012, which sees the UK economy look set for a sub-par recovery.”
And he warned that with growth expectations remaining at below 2%, it appeared people were allowing for a permanent loss of output, which will in turn have an important effect on the economy.
The Bank of England was, he added, likely to keep interest rates on hold until early next year, but market expectations would remain fluid.
The second speaker for the evening was Glenn Caton, recently-appointed UK managing director of Direct Wines, the Reading-based wine producer and retailer which itself came in at number nine in the TV250.
The company employs over 900 staff and has a turnover of just under £350m, which is especially impressive given the number of well-known names in the independent wine industry who have fallen by the wayside in recent months.
Caton talked about customer loyalty and the power of the brand, which in the case of Direct Wines also sells under names such as Laithwaites Wine and the Sunday Times Wine Club.
With four large retailers taking an 80% share of the wine market in the UK and already low margins being eroded by inflation, rising oil costs and increases in duty, Caton revealed Direct Wines’ plans over the next five years to increase sales into overseas markets with higher margins.
“It is tough and there are pressures, but ours is a trusted brand and if we can get the consumer focus and strategy right, offer great service and value, then we can do it,” he said. “We want to be seen as the place where wine comes to life, it’s about personal service and making it relevant to our customers.”
Plans include investing in personal wine advisers, giving people the control to create their own cases, and individual recommendations for wine lovers based on previous choices.
Having whetted everyone’s appetite for success, Caton then handed back to David Murray for the announcement of the first Thames Valley 250 awards, presented to five companies who had caught the judges’ eye for outstanding performance and could now officially be called “Ones to Watch”: