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Where are the UK's fastest-growing private companies? In which sectors? Which businesses made it into the Hot 100 again in 2013? The full analysis of the 2013 Investec Hot 100 ranking of fast-growth private companies

The biggest outtakes from the 2013 Investec Hot 100 are these:

  • Hit on the right formula, and your business can withstand the tough climate. One-third of the 2013 list also featured in 2012
  • The centre of UK gravity is shifting inexorably southwards (49 of the Hot 100 come from London and the south-east)
  • But don’t underestimate the north-west, which has spawned 18 high-growth businesses and the Midlands (17)
  • Between them, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the north-east are home to only 12 Hot 100 companies; and 
  • For extraordinary margins, nothing beats financial services.

Sustained success

What’s the secret of success? Thousands of management textbooks have strived to find the answer. 

This year’s Hot 100 provides solid evidence. Of the UK’s 100 fastest-growing companies, one-third have repeated their 2012 performance, appearing again this year.

Where do they ply their trade?

Financial services continues to be a sector that can deliver strong growth: from investment and fund management to forex and bullion-trading. The oil and gas sector, too, remains fruitful, whether you’re publishing oil and gas data or operating petrol stations. 

Other notable sectors among those Hot 100 companies making a regular appearance:

  • Cloud, IT and technology solutions (ANS, Kelway, Exponential-e);
  • Food and drink (Severn & Wye Smokery, AH Worth, Aston Manor Brewery); and
  • Pharmaceuticals and medical equipment (Arrowedge, Ceuta, Durbin);

Sectors split

There’s a wide spread of sectors represented in the 2013 Hot 100, ranging from the very new (media bartering) to the very traditional (boat-building); from construction and demolition to the law and online retail. As Ed Cottrell at Investec observes: “there’s growth in sectors you’d expect and ones that you don’t.”

To be expected, IT services, technology and telecoms represent the largest sector of the Hot 100, at 16 per cent. After this, comes financial and professional services, with 15 in our 100. These businesses also dominate our profit margin rankings. The City is, still, a centre of gravity for the UK economy.

For those who believe that economic success must be based on making things, manufacturing and engineering (13 of the Hot 100) and construction (ten) have had a strong year – much better than 2012. It begs the question whether we’re seeing a resurgence of traditional industries, alongside the emergence of new ones. (One note of caution: three of the construction businesses are specialists in demolishing buildings, rather than putting them up!)

We’ve always got to eat – and we still like to treat ourselves. There’s no change from last year in the impressively high number of food and agriculture businesses in the Hot 100 (eight). Britain has a strong track record of growing innovative food and drinks businesses (see the previous Hot 100 reviews). If nothing else, Boost’s energy drinks (76) should keep us buzzing for the year ahead.


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