When Andrew Owens ploughed £50,000 into launching biofuel firm Greenergy back in 1992, he could not have known that 16 years later the company would be turning over £1.2bn and selling four billion litres of fuel a year.
A bedroom start-up, Greenergy is now a Hot 100 veteran, with a place in the ranking every year since 2006. Loyal Real Business readers will have seen Owens’s face crop up in countless issues as he takes the company from strength to strength. The London-based outfit has seen 71 per cent compound growth over the past four years. And Owens has no plans to slow expansion. “I reckon we’ve got another year left in the Hot 100,” he says. ”But if we keep growing like this for too much longer, we’ll be bigger than the world.”
Turnover for the coming year is set to hit £1.6bn, making Greenergy the largest company in our list. Margins are tight, however, hovering around the one per cent mark. “I love this industry, but it’s hard,” says Owens. “People make either little or no money in this space”. The firm has offices in Manchester, London, Edinburgh, Bath, Cape Town and Zurich, managing the import of fuels from around the world.
Greenergy is focused primarily on the UK market, but this could all be about to change: “Any of our offices could be reversed from a buying office to a selling office,” says Owens. You wouldn’t believe it looking at the numbers, but red tape has been a massive barrier to growth. “I would never start a business in the energy sector now. The government has lost the plot. I waste huge amounts of time on dealing with unjustifiable, arbitrary bureaucracy.” www.greenergy.co.uk