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The UK’s fastest growing private companies: The Hot 100 2016

The 2016 edition of the Real Business Hot 100 reveals the UK's fastest growing private companies, highlighting the variety British business has to offer.
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Using information from Companies House, in partnership with Jordans, the Hot 100 is based on turnover and profit growth (in particular, the compound growth rates over a four-year period) and definitively reveals which are the UK’s fastest growing private companies

To make this exhaustive list showcasing enterprise growth, each had to achieve sales of more than £10m and EBITDA of more than £1m, be in the private sphere and actively trading. All accounts has to be filed in the past two years, and a credit rating available. Charities, investment firms and property developers were not eligible for the list.

Once the final Hot 100 2016 list was compiled, the Real Business team then created a profile for each individual company, detailing the most recent turnover, EBITDA figures, location, boss and other key information.

So peruse the list – from manufacturers to technology innovators and service providers across an extremely diverse range of industries, you’ll see that our 100 fastest growing private companies are each bringing something unique to the table.

(1) Domus Group of Companies
  • Sector: Construction
  • Date founded: 1999
  • The boss: John Newey
  • Location: Surrey
  • Latest turnover: £27.6m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 100.07
  • Latest EBITDA: £1.1m

Kicking off our ranking of the UK’s fastest growing private companies is Domus, a tiles supplier with a reputation for its work on high profile commercial and residential designs, such as Battersea Power Station, Heathrow Terminal two, and the new American Embassy in Nine Elms. It has won awards for some of its previous projects, including the Foyles flagship bookstore in London, Heathrow Terminal five and Wembley Stadium.

From its initial supply of tiles, the company expanded its offering in 2014 to include a range of engineered oak flooring made from European White Oak from Poland and finished in Italy.

In December 2015, Domus merged with sister brand Surface to become a consolidated brand. The merger meant an extended showroom network and product portfolio, streamlined customer service and more competitive prices.

Domus offers more than 200 product ranges of its mosaics, stone and wood tiles in 10,000 colours, finishes and sizes. It stocks over 100,000 sq m of tiles and operates out of its 100,000 square foot logistic centre in West Molesey. The company has five showrooms across London and Surrey, located in Battersea, Clerkenwell, London, Islington and West Molesey, and employs more than 150 staff.

(2) Grey Technology
  • Sector: Engineering
  • Date founded: 2001
  • The boss: Nick Grey
  • Location: Worcestershire
  • Latest turnover: £66m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 97.18
  • Latest EBITDA: £6.1m

Grey Technology, which uses the trademark Gtech, designs and manufactures cordless home and garden appliances such as vacuum cleaners, floor sweepers and grass trimmers.

The brand was founded by Nick Grey, from Worcestershire, who had previously worked at vacuum cleaner brand VAX. Working initially out of his home, he came up with his mission “to provide the best loved floor-care and garden products in the world”.

The company went from strength-to-strength – in 2006, five years after launch, turnover passed the £6m mark.

Grey invented the world’s first cordless power sweeper, and since then the company has gone on to sell over 22m products in 19 countries around the world. Its latest product is the AirRAM cordless vacuum cleaner, launched in 2012. Gtech has also designed several products on a white label basis for other brands.

The company has employees in the UK, US, and China. Gtech has reportedly been subject to several corporate espionage attempts to rival manufacturers over the years.

(3) LSE Retail Group
  • Sector: Home retail
  • Date founded: 2009
  • The boss: David Gutfreund
  • Location: Lancashire
  • Latest turnover: £14.2m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 66.67
  • Latest EBITDA: £1.2m

LSE Retail Group is an online retailer of home and commercial lighting. The company also has a trade division that sells directly to building trades, retailers and wholesalers. It was established in 2009 and now fulfills more than one million orders a year from its distribution facility in Manchester. LSE Retail Group also owns MiniSun, a lighting brand and LED lighting products innovator.

The company stocks over 3,000 unique lighting products across all categories, from LED bulbs to outdoor lighting. The company’s automated order flow processes and technology driven warehouse management systems enable it to ship orders placed before 2pm on the same day, for next day delivery.

The brand has managed to maintain strong profitable growth since launch, and is one of the UK’s fastest growing private companies in the lighting distributor and retailer space. In fact, LSE has made the Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 for 2015, coming in at number 24.

Looking forward, the brand aims to prioritise a continued investment in people, systems and new product development.

(4) Sewells Reservoir Construction
  • Sector: Construction
  • Date founded: 1989
  • The boss: Oliver Rees
  • Location: Essex
  • Latest turnover: £20.9m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 64.54
  • Latest EBITDA: £2.5m

SRC Aggregates is an independent, family-owned business, providing a number of aggregate services, as well as quarry and agricultural reservoir planning and development. In addition, it operates recycling equipment for waste disposal services for inert, non-hazardous waste, as well as hazardous materials.

Based at its Highwood Quarry near Stansted Airport, the company operates across East Anglia, London and Hertfordshire. The company opened a quarry in Ardleigh in 2011, which resulted in the production of sand and gravel for clients.

Two years later the firm dramatically changed when it moved on from operating solely with contract drivers and hired vehicles by activating its first company fleet. It is continuing to grow to this day, and recently evolved its fleet by replacing its older Bell Equipment B30Ds with new next-generation B30Es. According to managing director, Oliver Rees, this move came in a bid to retain and enhance its reputation – and he believes that the new equipment does not just meet, but exceeds expectations.

(5) Collins Earthworks
  • Sector: Construction
  • Date founded: 2000
  • The boss: David Collins
  • Location: Nottinghamshire
  • Latest turnover: £32.4m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 61.86
  • Latest EBITDA: £4.8m

Collins Earthworks manages a variety of earthmoving projects and related services, including contracting, surveying, plant hire, hauling, civil engineering, aggregates, recycling, ground stabilisation, and demolition.

In addition to this range of services, Collins Earthworks has added training services to its offering. The company offers a variety of training programmes, including: CPCS plant training, NVQ courses, Site Safety Pus, specialist construction, working at height, manual handling, abrasive wheel and face fit testing.

The company is proud of its commitment to meet the demands of its customers from consultation to construction, and has been providing these services all over the UK from its base in the Midlands for over ten years.

Collins Earthworks has its own workshop and mobile service units with fully qualified fitters to keep machine time down to a minimum, maximise productivity and meet customers’ deadlines.

The firm also positions itself as an industry expert, with a team of staff on hand to provide a practical solution for all your waste transfer requirements, and aims to make further investments in fleet and staff in the future.

(6) Panther Warehousing
  • Sector: Logistics
  • Date founded: 2009
  • The boss: Colin McCarthy
  • Location: Northamptonshire
  • Latest turnover: £27.4m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 53.40
  • Latest EBITDA: £1.1m

Panther Warehousing is a supplier of UK-wide two-man and one-man assisted “white glove” home delivery services to a number of online and multi-channel furniture and white goods retailers and manufactures.

Based in Northampton, the business operates a nationwide network supported by six dedicated out-base depots. It has developed its own bespoke operational systems supporting a delivery service including route planning, management control and track and trace for the end customer.

The company is dedicated to further growth, and recently relocated to a new cross dock facility in Northampton. More than three times the size of the company’s previous home at Crick, the 165,000 sq ft site, at Lodge Farm Industrial Estate in Northampton, allows Panther to better serve the increasing demands of customers and to the exponential growth levels of the past three years.

In addition, earlier this year the business invested £3m in a new fleet to cater for increased business. It is an ambitious step to reflect the increase in demand for Panther’s services and a surge in new contracts – predominantly from furniture and household retailers keen to take advantage of its next-day delivery of heavy goods.

(7) MSI Group
  • Sector: Healthcare recruitment
  • Date founded: 2006
  • The boss: Nick Simpson
  • Location: London
  • Latest turnover: £56.0m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 52.97
  • Latest EBITDA: £1m

Founded in 2002, MSI Group is a supplier of frontline health jobs, healthcare professionals, senior healthcare managers, pharmaceutical, medical device and life science staff. Its clients include the NHS and other public, private and third sector organisations across 11 countries.

As one of our fastest growing private companies, the group has doubled in size since 2012, which makes it one of the healthcare recruitment companies in the UK to watch. It has provided candidates for health jobs across the UK and globally, including nursing jobs, doctors’ jobs, mental health roles and more.

In addition to providing the staff, MSI provides consultancy services to reduce agency spend, and manages the full recruitment cycle. The group has developed an online platform that gives users real-time access to each stage of the booking process.

The group has won many awards and accreditations that recognise the quality of service it provides, including placement a Sunday Times Fast Track award, two years in a row, and the Queen’s Award for International Enterprise.

(8) Skyscanner
  • Sector: Travel
  • Date founded: 2011
  • The boss: Gareth Williams
  • Location: London
  • Latest turnover: £119.7m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 52.92
  • Latest EBITDA: £18.6m

Skyscanner is a global travel search site which allows users to compare the best prices for flights and make bookings online. The company was created when the founder, Gareth Williams, got frustrated with trying to find cheap flights and sought to create a solution with his two friends, Barry Smith and Bonamy Grimes.

Williams’ 14 years of experience as a developer for financial institutions and retail companies have helped him make Skyscanner what it is today – a free service that enables 50m people every month to book flights, hotels and hire cars.

The company also powers travel search for over 1,000 partners through Skyscanner for Business products. Its free mobile apps have been downloaded over 40m times and services are available in over 30 languages and 70 currencies.

These days, Skyscanner employs over 770 staff, and has offices in Barcelona, Beijing, Budapest, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Miami, Shenzhen, Singapore and Sofia.

Its investors include SEP, Sequoia, Artemis, Baillie Gifford, Khazanah, Vitruvian Partners and Yahoo! JAPAN.

(9) Signature Pubs
  • Sector: Hospitality
  • Date founded: 2006
  • The boss: Nic Wood
  • Location: Aberdeenshire
  • Latest turnover: £11.9m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 48.67
  • Latest EBITDA: £2.1m

Signature Pubs was founded by brothers Nic and Garreth Wood, a venture initially funded by their father and oil billionaire Ian Wood, chairman of the Aberdeen-based Wood Group.

The brothers both had a background working in pubs and spent some months in America researching bar concepts to introduce at their own venues across Scotland. Each pub is decorated to suit the local area and clientele.

The company is ever-expanding, and in May of this year the pair bought their first Glasgow-based pubs as part of deal to acquire five venues owned by Tennet’s through its Thistle Pub company subsidiary.

The business was recognised for its dedication to its venues earlier this year when it was among the winners in this year’s BII Scotland Award – Signature Pubs was named Bar Operator of the Year for its 12 bars and restaurants in a ceremony at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Glasgow.

(10) Thompson Aero Seating
  • Sector: Aviation manufacturing
  • Date founded: 1997
  • The boss: James Thompson
  • Location: County Armagh
  • Latest turnover: £64.9m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 46.18
  • Latest EBITDA: £11m

Thompson Aero Seating is a manufacturer of premium business-class, full flat-bed airline seating. Its bespoke solutions aim to maximise passengers’ personal space and optimise every inch of the cabin.

Founded in 1997, the business had secured a production facility at the Seagoe Industrial Park in Northern Ireland by 2011 in a bid to meet the increased demand.

Within 12 months, Thompson Vantage Business Class seats had been designed, manufactured and delivered to the first three customers: bmi, Brussels Airlines and Austrian Airlines. In 2012 a further four customers selected the Thompson Vantage, including Thompson’s first Airbus line-fit program with JetBlue.

By 2014 its manufacturing facilities had grown in excess of 10,000 sq m, and Thompson has continued to innovate up to the present day. In early 2016, the business strengthened its position in the US market with the announcement to supply Delta’s new A350 fleet with the new Thompson Vantage XL Suite.

Keep reading to find which other companies made our Hot 100 2016 ranking of the fastest growing private companies.

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About Author

Letitia Booty

Letitia Booty is a special projects journalist for Real Business. She has a BA in english literature from the University of East Anglia, and since graduating she has written for a variety of trade titles. Most recently, she was a reporter at SME magazine.

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