David Murray, The Business Magazine’s managing editor and publisher, played host for the private dinner marking the publication of the new 2014 Solent 250 listings.
“The Solent 250 listing is not a pecking order, but a grouping of talented and successful private independent businesses in the region, based on turnover,“ he explained. As such, the aim of The Business Magazine and the sponsors of the Solent 250 – HSBC, Grant Thornton and Blake Morgan – was to fly the flag for business success within the Solent region.
“The Solent 250 data shows that businesses are, in the main, increasing sales,“ Murray stated. Cumulative turnover had increased from £11.94 billion last year to £13b. Employment had also risen by 10% from 82,000 to 90,000 people.
“Solent 250 companies make a significant contribution to the economy of the south and to the UK overall.“ And some Murray added, were “high flyers who deserve recognition“ for their business qualities and performances that have caught the judges’ eye over the past year.
The evening highlighted six of the best such companies, and turned them into award-winning ’Ones to Watch’ …
The awards were made at the launch dinner for the new Solent 250 list, published in the November issue of The Business Magazine, and sponsored by Grant Thornton, HSBC and Blake Morgan.
The Owner Managed Business award
Tim Forer, partner at Blake Morgan, presented the Owner Managed Business award to Mike Street, managing director of SHB Hire, the Romsey-based vehicle hire and management specialist.
A family-owned business with a 540-strong staff, chairman Mike Street welcomed his son Paul as managing director at the start of this year.
Founded in 1968, Romsey-based SHB today operates on a nationwide basis with 14 operational sites and 180 technicians ensuring dependable UK coverage. It is industry-recognised as a ’one-stop-shop’ for all types of vehicle hire.
That one-stop-shop approach provides tailored, flexible vehicle management solutions to customers 24/7, 365 days a year, and last year a turnover approaching £70 million. Customer packages, often bespoke to their needs, include fleet administration, repair and maintenance, accident management and telematics.
SHB has a diverse fleet of 12,500 specialist, commercial and executive vehicles, including Europe’s largest 4×4 hire fleet, and the UK’s biggest hire fleet of HGV tippers and crane lorries, plus over 1,000 rentable golf-buggies and all-terrain vehicles.
SHB is no stranger to success and awards. In addition to 30% turnover growth in the past three years, SHB won the Solent 250 Owner Managed Business of the Year title in 2011, and in September gained Rental Company and Supplier of the Year at the prestigious 2014 UK Fleet Van Awards.
SHB was also the first UK vehicle hire company to gain all three ISO accreditations: 9001 quality, 14001 environment and 18001 health and safety.
The Rising Star award
The Rising Star award was presented by Blake Morgan’s James Hawkeswood to Andover-based Be Wiser Insurance. Director Andrew Dunkerley collected the award on behalf of the company.
Hampshire-based Be Wiser Insurance is an independent insurance broker regulated and approved by the FCA. It is also one of the fastest-growing personal lines brokers in the UK. Turnover has grown from £17.4m in May 2012 to almost £26m this year. Be Wiser Insurance has also been listed in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 for three years in succession, a distinction achieved by very few companies.
It operates from offices in Andover and has more than 500 members of staff – each highly trained and experienced in order to offer expert advice to every client. Plainly recognising that its people are its most valuable asset, Be Wiser insurance was acknowledged as a leading employer when it won the Employer of the Year title at this year’s Inspire Business Awards.
Acting for the majority of the largest UK-based insurance companies (Be Wiser has more than 30 insurance companies on its panel) the firm simply aims to get the best insurance policy at the best price for each individual client. A client base in excess of 150,000 helps enable the negotiation of excellent policy rates from Be Wiser’s insurer partners, and a wide variety of insurance cover ranging from vehicles and travel (over 80 types), to home, health, medical, life and income protection.
The International Business Growth award
Norman Armstrong, partner of Grant Thornton, awarded the International Business Growth award to Southampton-based Oil Spill Response, and the Fast Riser award to Julian Spector, executive chairman of Southampton-headquartered Switch Concepts.
Established in Southampton in 1985, Oil Spill Response is wholly owned by responsible and environmentally-committed oil and energy companies. Its 284 staff operate globally providing the resources needed for efficient and effective response to industry-related emergency scenarios.
In the past financial year its turnover soared from £37.3m to £57m, almost all that growth being international, following strategic acquisitions and organic growth to enhance OSRL’s global preparedness, training, and response services and networks. It is now the largest industry-owned co-operative of its type.
Worldwide preparedness is now essential. OSRL chief executive Robert Limb explains: “As the management of incidents becomes more complex, so does the importance of pooling resources, investment and knowledge. Incident prevention is the priority, safety is paramount. It is my commitment to our industry that we shall work together to promote sound contingency planning in preparation for any emergency response scenario.“
OSRL is recognised as a world-leader in its emergency and training field with expert support available to regional and internationally-operating oil companies, and governmental, energy and marine sectors.
From its key operational bases in Southampton, Fort Lauderdale (USA) and Singapore, OSRL can instigate planned and proven incident command procedures, transport specialist resources, and call upon world authorities in their field to help tackle life and environmentally-threatening oil spillage situations.
The Fast Riser of the Year award
For the past two years, the Sunday Times/Hiscox Tech Tack 100 has named Switch Concepts as the second fastest-growing technology company in the UK, and the fastest-growing advertising technology company.
Founded in 2008 by entrepreneurial couple Julian and Jo Spector, the Southampton-based advertising software developer has increased its turnover by 112% in the past year to now top £30m.
The 68-strong team at Switch Concepts operates in the rapidly developing world of the digital marketplace, assisting publishers and advertisers to get the best results from this increasingly complex arena.
Switch Concepts uses innovative software, intelligence and data analysis to understand the digital marketplace with its various online channels of communication.
This knowledge enables it, in association with the Unanimis digital advertising network, to advise clients about ad campaigns, brand awareness, appropriate marketing content, customer targeting improvements and ultimately achieve better return on their publishing or advertising investment.
Switch Concepts provides a fresh and enviable insight into the UK online population for publishers and advertisers – market advantage.
Every month, through its market leading ad-serving technology platform, Switch Concepts manages over 30b global advertising impressions, and represents a reach of over 80% (*comScore) of the total UK online population.
The Exporter of the Year award
Mark Frettingham of HSBC presented Exporter of the Year to Tim Coomer of R&M Electrical Group, the Southampton electrical distributors, while the winner of Business Team of the Year was Eastleigh plant and pumps hire specialist Selwood Holdings, the trophy being picked up by Christopher Garrett.
R&M Electrical Group is one of the largest independent electrical distributors in the UK, with an increasing influence internationally. Besides a number of specialist UK divisions and branches, R&M has overseas branches in the Caspian Region, Kazakhstan, Iraq and the Middle East.
Since its formation in 1987, R&M has been a stockist for some of the world’s leading electrical manufacturers. As well as its UK stocking branches, R&M has five specialist divisions: lighting, marine, R&M Cables in Bristol, R&M Fixings & Support in Southampton, and R&M Assembly Division in Hedge End. Its dedicated exports and projects divisions, established in 1996, have been an unqualified success with exports to over 70 countries and the winning of many internationally-significant contracts and projects.
R&M’s project division can offer a ’total’ service through planning, costing, procurement and supply of the complete scope of specialised electrical products needed to meet the demands of international projects.
R&M Caspian was created in 1998 to support the supply and installation of electrical equipment in hazardous arenas such as oil and gas production and exploration, petrochem and chemical processing. R&M has Caspian regional representatives and offices in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.
More recently, R&M Wholesale Electrical set up a head office in Dubai to “revolutionise the distribution and supply of electrical equipment to major projects across a spectrum of industries within the region.“
The Business team of the Year award
Based in Chandlers Ford, Selwood Holdings is a success story founded in 1946 by William R Selwood, a Welshman who saw the need for construction plant and equipment machinery in the post-war rebuilding programme.
Today Selwood is a £56m turnover company employing 420 staff throughout its nationwide network of branches and is one of the largest privately-owned companies serving the water, environmental and construction industries with the hire and sale of plant, in particular pumps.
Selwood designs, manufactures, and sells contractors pumps and is the number one pump hirer in the UK providing a full range of pumps for all applications. An acknowledged leader in this field, 75% of its mobile site pumps are exported worldwide through a distributor network.
Selwood Holdings restored the Selwood corporate name at the start of the new millennium. In 2002 Selwood bought out 3i’s stake and reverted to 100% management ownership.
As HSBC’s Mark Frettingham said in presenting the award: “The key to a successful business lies with the management team. Our winners continue to steer their business through challenging economic times, while maintaining a fantastic company performance. Their unrivalled product offering and excellent customer service has ensured that the business and its international reach continues to expand. In addition, the management team completed a complex refinancing exercise earlier this year which will position the company for future growth.“
You can download the Solent 250 list here.