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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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(11) Fastflow Group

  • Sector:
  • Date founded: 2004
  • The boss: Neil Armstrong
  • Location: Tyne and Wear
  • Latest turnover: £70.3m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 42.91
  • Latest EBITDA: £1.6m

Fastflow is an asset maintenance company, operating in the UK support services and infrastructure sectors. Its 600-strong workforce, operating from Oxford, London, Washington (Tyne and Wear), Scotland, Warrington and Reading, aims to enhance the efficiency of its customers’ assets by providing sustainable, innovative service delivery.

Today, the group delivers 80 per cent of Northumbrian Water Group’s clean water services across the UK (North East and Essex regions) and this continues to be one of the company’s key strategic relationships.

In addition, this fastest growing private companies entry is a long-term delivery partner for Scottish Water and Anglian (Hartlepool) Water. Fastflow’s customer portfolio spans water, energy, social housing, local authority, and central government asset owners.

(12) The7starsUK
  • Sector: Media
  • Date founded: 2005
  • The boss: Jenny Biggam
  • Location: London
  • Latest turnover: £209.5m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 42.15
  • Latest EBITDA: £1.1m

The7starsUK is the UK’s largest independent media agency, planning and buying campaigns across all media channels for a number of challenging advertisers.

The brand started life in 2005 with its core beliefs that it stands by to this day, namely: great service starts with the best people; the best rates come without compromise; great planning looks forward, not back; and the best campaigns start with smart insights. The business does not do agency deals, because it claims it compromises its clients’ budgets. Instead it negotiated each plan with the client directly.

It won Bronze in the Agency of the Year category at the Arqiva Commercial Radio Awards earlier this year, where two of its artists also received accolades.

The7stars’ clients include big household names such as Deep Heat, Crocs, Boux Avenue, The Dogs Trust, the Discovery Channel and Fever Tree.

In June this year it was announced that the business is looking to launch a new offering. The new media agency will be lead by Henry Daglish and will have a distinctive and slightly different proposition.

(13) John F Hunt
  • Sector: Civil engineering
  • Date founded: 2006
  • The boss: John Hall
  • Location: Essex
  • Latest turnover: £84.4m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 41.43
  • Latest EBITDA: £6.5m

John F Hunt can trace its existence back to the 1930s, to a blacksmith’s under the name Joseph Hunt and Sons of Diss Street, Hackney.

In the 1980s a business called John F Hunt Demolition was formed, concentrating on demolition and industrial dismantling, and it continues to operate to this day. The group as it exists today was incorporated in 2006.

The business has since expanded to encompass many related activities, such as controlled explosive demolition, temporary works, civil engineering, asbestos removal, ground remediation and four specialist hire companies. Its head office is in Grays, Essex, but it operates nationally utilising a number of depots nationwide to fill its orders.

The group has received many awards and certifications over the years. It is most proud of its awards from the City of London and Corporation of London for its innovation, safety an environmental management.

It is also an accredited member of several professional bodies, such as the Asbestos Removal Contractor Association, the National Federation of Demolition Contractors, and the British Safety Council.

(14) Lognet Systems
  • Sector: IT services
  • Date founded: 1996
  • The boss: Taly Eshel
  • Location: Surrey
  • Latest turnover: £10.1m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 33.15
  • Latest EBITDA: £1.7m

LogNet Systems is an online billing and customer relations management software solutions developer for telecommunications companies.

Lognet Systems actually represents a group of companies headquartered in the UK and operating throughout EMEA, APAC and the Americas. The group works together with a global network of partners to promote and deliver its customer management and billing services.

LogNet Systems’ customer management and billing solutions serve a variety of single and multiple service operations, creating opportunities for service providers to add new services or merge multiple business lines, while reducing the complexity of operations and associated IT costs. Solutions include electronic bill payment, electronic statements, one-to-one marketing and printing connectivity.

The fastest growing private companies member has designed and deployed more than 50 complex customer management and billing solutions for communications, utilities, financial and transportation service providers worldwide.

(15) Van Elle
  • Sector: Civil engineering
  • Date founded: 1984
  • The boss: Jonathan Fenton
  • Location: Nottinghamshire
  • Latest turnover: £84.2m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 33.14
  • Latest EBITDA: £8.7m

Van Elle is a provider of piling and ground engineering services throughout the British Isles and overseas. It has achieved steady year-on-year growth and has been recognised in its sector for its expertise, innovation and technical excellence, taking home the 2015 Construction News Awards’ Ground Engineering Contractor of the Year, the 2015 Ground Engineering Awards’ Contractor of the Year, the Nottingham Chamber of Commerce’ Business of the Year and two Offshore Excellence Awards.

Recently, the company invested heavily in sustainability-led solutions, such as geothermal piles and boreholes and in IT packages which allow it to maximise efficiency by reducing materials and costs through value engineered design right through to monitoring site activities in real-time from its various office locations around the UK.

The business has set its sights firmly on future growth and further development, and with this in mind in October of this year it has invested in a range of stat-of-the-art plant equipment.

(16) Xiros
  • Sector: Medical manufacturing
  • Date founded: 1982
  • The boss: Bahaa Seedhom
  • Location: West Yorkshire
  • Latest turnover: £10.9m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 31.14
  • Latest EBITDA: £3.1m

Xiros works with healthcare professionals, medical device companies and academic institutions to provide various routes to market for orthopedics and sports medicine inventions.

The company was founded in 1982 and was originally called Neoligaments. The name changed to Xiros in 2000 to reflect its widening scope of business activities.

Alongside the development and manufacture of its own devices which it continues to market under the Neoligaments brand, Xiros also provides expertise in research, development, design, manufacture and marketing to others in the medical field.

Xiros’ ethos is to make a positive difference to the world, both through its business and non-profit activities. It takes an active interest in environmental issues, and its environmental group meets regularly to assess the ways in which is can make a positive impact on its surroundings. Previous projects have included installation of solar roof panels and sourcing electric company cars to reduce carbon emissions.

Xiros has held the Investors in People Standard since July 2000, and achieved Investors in People Gold Standard Accreditation in March 2016. It also achieved the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for a second time in 2016.

(17) Conexpo
  • Sector: Aggregates
  • Date founded: 1991
  • The boss:Jonathan Beryl, Robert and Stephen McCluskey
  • Location: County Antrim
  • Latest turnover: £23.7m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 30.90
  • Latest EBITDA: £3.7m

Conexpo is a Belfast-based aggregates mining company with quarries located within a 15km radius of the Port of Belfast terminal.

The company has supplied high polished stone value aggregate to prestigious contracts, including aggregates ranging from 2mm to 20mm, and volumes from 200 tonne to 200,000 tonne.

The Conexpo ship loading terminal can handle vessels up to 130m. The company operates vehicles under its own stevedoring license and can load vessels at up to 1,000 tonnes per hour. In addition, the company operates a distribution hub at Avonmouth Docks, Bristol, with the ability to load customer’s rail wagons or road transport.

The company operates certified management systems for quality, health and safety and the environment. In addition, it works closely with local schools, colleges and universities on a technical/quality level and assists young people to develop the skills required to benefit the industry for generations to come.

(18) Roundel Manufacturing
  • Sector: Furniture
  • Date founded: 1981
  • The boss: Lindsey Oman
  • Location: Tyne and Wear
  • Latest turnover: £19.6m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 29.47
  • Latest EBITDA: £1.8m

Roundel Manufacturing was founded in 1981to manufacture kitchens on sale through showrooms, but it quickly became apparent the business could also offer its product to trade customers.

Roundel started to supply independent retailers with its kitchens in 1983. In1984 an opportunity presented itself to supply kitchens to a number of nationally recognised house builders, something which continues to this day.

Roundel currently operates from six sites with a workforce of approximately 160 with a head office located in South Shields. For retail customers, the business supplies kitchens under the trading style of Nixons Kitchens and provides an independent website www.nixonskitchens.co.uk.

(19) Hays Travel
  • Sector: Travel
  • Date founded: 1980
  • The boss: Irene Hays
  • Location: Tyne and Wear
  • Latest turnover: £306m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 29.28
  • Latest EBITDA: £5.5m

Hays Travel is the UK’s largest independent travel agent. It all began back in 1980 when John Hays opened his first branch in the back of his mum’s children’s wear shop in Seaham, county Durham.

Today, the company’s annual turnover is more than £800m, and it employs over a thousand people. Across the country it has more than 100 retail shops and over 130 experienced travel agents who work from their homes.

The company also arranges all the extras like car hire, transfers and insurance. There’s a foreign exchange bureau in each of its branches across the north east, where customers can pick up commission free currency before they set off on holiday.

Hays Travel also runs the Hays Travel Independence Group, a consortium of independent travel retailers who benefit from Hays Travel’s buying power, technology and back office expertise.

The fastest growing private companies entry prides itself on its reputation for giving back and the staff get involved in local community partnership projects on a regular basis. Hays has been awarded the Investors in People Gold status, and has been included on the Sunday Times’ 100 Best Companies to Work for in the UK.

(20) The Hut Group
  • Sector: Ecommerce
  • Date founded: 2004
  • The boss: Matthew Moulding
  • Location: Cheshire
  • Latest turnover: £333.5m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 28.50
  • Latest EBITDA: £20.9m

The Hut Group is an online health and beauty retailer. The global ecommerce platform powers some of the world’s largest brands, including Myprotein and Lookfantastic.

Initially the business sought to provide a technology platform for retailers needing ecommerce services, and by 2006 the firm had changed tack to primarily powering its own websites or acquiring existing ones. Nowadays the firm sells third-party branded or own brand health and beauty products across 26 websites.

In 2014, the business invested £15m in developing its technology, and now trades in 20 languages. Last year it shipped 13m orders to 190 countries, driving international sales that year by 74 per cent to £113.3m, almost half of its total revenue.

The company’s growth has caught the eye of investors, and in July last year, American private equity firm KKR took a 20 per cent stake for £100m. Balderton Capital, former Tesco boss Terry Leahy, M&S’s former head Stuart Rose and ex-Matalan chief Angus Munro have also been involved with the brand.

The company is constantly looking to grow and in September this year acquired Ideal, a weight management and sports nutrition retailer, which trades under IdealShape and IdealFit.

Ideal generates $60m of online, direct-to-consumer revenues annually and boasts an annual growth rate of over 250 per cent.

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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