Published this weekend, the 23rd annual Sunday Times Virgin Atlantic Fast Track 100 league table ranks Britain’s private companies with the fastest-growing sales.
The 19 companies headquartered in the South East (compared to 20 last year) include 13 new entrants to the league table. Their sales have grown by an average of 88% a year over three years to a total of £499.2m, and together they employ more than 2,539 people.
The region’s top-ranked company is workplace design and construction firm Curve, is in the top three nationally. Based in Bracknell, Berkshire, its previous clients include Merlin Entertainment, BNP Paribas and the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead. Its sales over the past three years have grown by an average of 186% a year to £9.2m in 2019.
Other new entrants include Hampshire-based toiletries brand Childs Farm, which featured as a One to Watch in 2018. Founder Joanna Jensen left investment banking to set up the company after she struggled to find products suitable for her daughter’s sensitive skin. Last year sales grew to £12.8m when it became the country’s second-largest baby toiletries brand.
The companies in the southeast appear with businesses from around Britain, including fitness clothing retailer Gymshark, beauty products retailer Charlotte Tilbury, and brewer BrewDog. Past stars include chip designer ARM, which featured in 1997 with sales of £17m, floated and was acquired by Japan’s SoftBank in 2016 for £24bn; and mixer drinks maker Fever-Tree, which floated in 2014 at £154m and is now worth £2.6bn.
The Fast Track 100 is sponsored by Virgin Atlantic, Barclays, BDO, BGF and N+1 Singer, and is compiled by Fast Track, the Oxford-based research and networking events firm.
Private companies in the southeast with the fastest-growing sales, by county and rank
|Annual sales growth over 3 years||Sales £m||Staff||Year end ‡||Comment|
Workplace design and construction
|186%||*9.2||16||Sep 19||Designed an office with a star-shaped entrance and a racetrack carpet for children’s charity Make-A-Wish|
Solar panel installer
|143%||*9.3||25||May 19||Installed a CityTree, an anti-pollution device equivalent to 275 trees, at Piccadilly Circus|
Specialist online travel agency
|81%||*17.6||49||Dec 18||This year, over 100,000 holidaymakers stayed in accommodation booked on this company’s website|
Retail and leisure developer
|96%||*12.8||110||Apr 19||Grime artist Stormzy launched his 2017 album Gang Signs & Prayer at Boxpark Croydon|
Events management agency
|46%||*8.7||43||Aug 19||Says it puts on more than 1,000 events a year for the likes of Google and ITV|
|Colchester||68||OMG How Cheap
Online stationery retailer
|52%||*7.1||32||Feb 19||Stationery salesman David Field founded his own company after being made redundant in 2011|
|Braintree||99||Airline Component Services
Aircraft parts and repairs
|44%||*6.2||10||Mar 19||Supplies and repairs aircraft parts for customers including British Airways, TUI and Easyjet|
|Sherborne St John||9||Childs Farm
Children’s toiletries maker
|143%||12.8||28||Dec 18||Its products are now available in more than 7,500 stores nationwide and launched in New Zealand this August|
|61%||*6.3||68||Mar 19||Offers a sedation service for nervous patients with dental phobia|
Construction contractor and developer
|60%||66.7||62||Feb 19||There are currently 4,000 development plots under this group’s control|
Life insurance broker
|56%||37.8||411||Jan 19||Says that it has sold over £46bn of life insurance policies, covering over 440,000 UK families|
Display and software supplier
|50%||*5.5||24||Dec 18||Its interactive displays can detect the user’s age and gender and change content accordingly|
Vehicle leasing broker
|44%||*75.1||226||Dec 18||Positioned a “car vending machine” at London’s Waterloo station to promote its car leasing website, Motorama|
Beauty products retailer
|77%||112.6||180||Dec 18||Following its launch in Australia, fans queued up for hours to buy its new beauty products|
Car repair services
|178%||*5.6||65||Jul 19||Carries out 15,000 bodywork repairs per year in supermarket car parks|
|Oxford Summer Courses
Educational course provider
|62%||*9.3||36||Sep 19||Students from 112 countries have enlisted in its summer courses|
Golf marketing agency
|181%||*6.2||16||Apr 19||The number ’54’ represents the perfect round of golf; 18 birdies|
|53%||73.1||1,093||Mar 19||Maintains three of London’s Royal Parks – Richmond Park, Bushy Park and Greenwich Park|
Online home and garden retailer
|49%||*17.1||45||Feb 19||Started life in a spare bedroom and now receives more than 1.5m orders a year|
‡ Financial year end of latest available accounts * Supplied by the company
The national picture
This year’s Fast Track 100 achieved, on average, sales growth of 78% a year over three years to a total of £3 billion. Together they employ 16,818 staff, having more than tripled their combined workforce over the period.