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.
(31) FP McCann
  • Sector: Civil engineering
  • Date founded: 1979
  • The boss: Eoin McCann
  • Location: County Londonderry
  • Latest turnover: £168.7m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 25.51
  • Latest EBITDA: £11.6m

FP McCann is a manufacturer and supplier of precast concrete products. It manages projects from conception to completion and handover by providing facilities and general management throughout the build programme.

The brand has 12 UK based manufacturing facilities and offers services such as drainage and water management, tunnels and shafts, rail, power and infrastructure, walling, fencing, agricultural, flooring, bespoke precast and architectural and structural products.

As a business, FP McCann is committed to research and development, the latest being its precast storm and waste water management system “StormStore”, which was developed to suit a wide range of construction projects and drainage schemes. In addition, the company is committed to developing new services for the civil engineering, ready mix concrete options, surfacing and housing development spaces.

As an organisation, FP McCann is continually striving to promote recycling and reduce waste by providing the most sustainable materials and innovating to provide carbon efficient alternatives. For example, its concrete and asphalts includes ranges offered that replace ingredients with recyclable materials offering more carbon efficient alternatives.

(32) Exponential-e
  • Sector: IT
  • Date founded: 2002
  • The boss: Lee Wade
  • Location: London
  • Latest turnover: £77.3m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 23.58
  • Latest EBITDA: £10.4m

Exponential-e is a British provider of cloud, connectivity, business internet, unified communications and IT services. Its services are delivered over a cloud-ready network designed for growth, and currently over 2,800 companies use its services.

The business claims that its fusion of complementary technologies – a carrier-class network and cloud infrastructure – means it can deliver enterprise applications at wire speed for a superior end-user experience.

The company is proud of its technology firsts – namely the UK’s first VPLS network and bandwidth management service. VPLS is a Layer 2 Network technology that allows geographically-diverse locations to connect together as if on the same Local Area Network (LAN). Exponential-e designed and built this technology back in 2006.

The business’ ethos is to apply innovation in everything we do to ensure our customers’ technology strategies are sustained ahead of the competition.

(33) The Clifton Packaging Group
  • Sector: Manufacturing
  • Date founded: 2002
  • The boss: Shahid Sheikh
  • Location: Leicestershire
  • Latest turnover: £18.8m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 23.22
  • Latest EBITDA: £1.6m

The Clifton Packaging Group specialises in the manufacture of packaging. It was established in London in 1981 as a manufacturer of plain carrier bags and paper bags for retail outlets, and in recent years has directed its efforts towards manufacturing flexible packaging materials for the snack food, confectionery, bakery and health food markets.

The company’s product offering includes: speciality coated films, pouches, and an ovenable range of packaging solutions, among many others.

Today it is based in Leicester and has set itself a sales target of £20m within the next three years, which is achievable based on capacity, according to managing director Shahid Sheikh. The business is also open to growth through acquisitions.

Clifton also recently updated its equipment in order to be able to expand its packaging offering to include features such as one-colour gravure printing, cold-seal coating, gloss-matt lacquering in register, and solvent based lamination.

In addition, as one of our fastest growing private companies, it’s also worth noting that the business is seeking distributors to get into Europe, with North America to follow in due course.

(34) John Nixon
  • Sector: Plant hire
  • Date founded: 1967
  • The boss: John Nixon
  • Location: Tyne and Wear
  • Latest turnover: £52.7m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 23.06
  • Latest EBITDA: £11.1m

John Nixon is a leading provider of plant, tools, accommodation units, portable toilets and site equipment to hire. It has an ever-expanding network of depots throughout the UK and the Middle East.

The business was founded in 1967 and is headquartered in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. It has over 440 product ranges and 15,000 assets available for hire. The average age of its equipment is 2.7 years, but in case something goes wrong with the assets there is a responsive breakdown team on hand.

The business is dedicated to ensuring a high level of safety standards to all of its operations. It supplies important safety information with each piece hired and has also produced a series of safety videos to assist customers in the safe operation of assets.

The business, as with most modern hire fleets in the industry, continues to invest heavily in latest models with lower emissions to stay up to date with legislation regarding carbon footprints.

(35) Itsu
  • Sector: Food and drink
  • Date founded: 1997
  • The boss: Julian Metcalfe, Clive Schlee
  • Location: London
  • Latest turnover: £82.6m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 22.24
  • Latest EBITDA: £5.9m

Itsu is a British chain of Asian-inspired fast food, based on the premise that lunch can be light, green and good for you. Its “eat beautiful” menu aims to celebrate the flavours of the Far East – it is high in nutrients yet low in calories and saturated fat.

The brand sells low carb salads, fields of crunchy vegetables, hot chicken noodle soups, brown rice pots, freshly made sushi and sashimi as well as frozen yoghurt and smoothies.

The brand was launched in 1997 when there were far fewer Japanese food outlets available in the UK. As of today, Itsu has over 60 shops in London and in other prime sites such as Oxford, Richmond, Stansted Airport, Bicester Village and Brighton by the seaside.

The company is strict when it comes to taking on new suppliers, and this applies to everything from carrots to cardboard boxes. Where possible it sources from the UK, with the exception of tuna. Itsu’s yellowfin tuna is line and pole caught in the Indian Ocean and super frozen.

(36) City Lifting
  • Sector: Plant hire
  • Date founded: 1995
  • The boss: Trevor Jepson
  • Location: Essex
  • Latest turnover: £19.2m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 20.85
  • Latest EBITDA: £3.1m

City Lifting is a specialist mobile crane hire and tower crane hire company. The company also offers cranes for sale, traffic management and auto cad services.

The company works in every industry and environment, from private houses to large construction projects and complicated industrial sites. It has completed hundreds of projects airside at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, and all cranes and crew are Crossrail compliant to cover London’s new railway system.

City Lifting is based in Purfleet inside the M25. These headquarters are situated to serve London and the South East of England, and the site’s workshops are big enough for the biggest cranes and trucks it owns.

The business places a high priority on training and development of all staff to ensure that all equipment is maintained to a high standard. It is also committed to further growth and expanding its assets, and was the first company to take delivery of the Unic 706 mini crane in Europe. It has also recently purchased other new equipment in order to be able to provide a comprehensive offering to its clients.

(37) Luceco
  • Sector: Lighting
  • Date founded: 2014
  • The boss: Jonathan Hornby
  • Location: Shropshire
  • Latest turnover: £103.1m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 20.78
  • Latest EBITDA: £4.2m

Luceco is a global LED lighting brand and supplies high efficiency, energy-saving lighting solutions to the trade, retail and specification markets. Its international offices provide sales and support to the UK, Europe, Middle East, US, Asia-pacific and Africa.

The business’ head office is in London, with global offices in, China, Houston, Hamburg, Paris, Barcelona, Dubai, Hong Kong and Johannesburg. It’s UK facility for distribution, warehousing and sales divisions is based in Telford, UK.

Earlier this year, the brand launched its first US website to cater specifically to that market as it looks to expand its operations overseas.

The company has aimed to build a reputation based on reliability and functionality of its products by offering guarantees and warranties, technical support and marketing backup.

(38) Novosco
  • Sector: IT
  • Date founded: 1994
  • The boss: Patrick McAliskey
  • Location: Country Antrim
  • Latest turnover: £20.9m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 20.45
  • Latest EBITDA: £1.2m

Novosco provides managed services, computer support, cloud services and cloud apps in Dublin, Cork, Belfast and Manchester.

The company has delivered enterprise-level hosting services to mid-market organisations in the UK and Ireland for the past 20 years. Its collaborative and open culture was recognised in the Sunday Times’ 100 Best Companies to Work For and in the Deloitte Fast 50 for 16 consecutive years.

Novosco also offers an IT infrastructure summer camp called Cloud Camp as part of its commitment to developing Northern Ireland’s IT talent for the future of the industry. Students get a chance to gain some real, hands-on experience that Novosco hopes will benefit the industry in years to come.

As part of a recent growth strategy which has culminated in it being named one of our fastest growing private companies, Novosco recently announced the acquisition of specialist IT security solutions and managed services expert NetDef. The seven-figure deal saw Novosco increase its workforce to 140 and add a world-class security specialism to its highly-regarded service offering.

NetDef counts a number of metropolitan police forces, NHS trusts and financial services organisations amongst its client-base, in addition to two Premier League football clubs.

(39) FM Conway
  • Sector: Construction
  • Date founded: 1961
  • The boss: Michael Conway
  • Location: Kent
  • Latest turnover: £247.8m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 19.55
  • Latest EBITDA: £13.8m

FM Conway delivers infrastructure services to support, develop and maintain the UK’s vital transport networks, built environments and open spaces.

Working on behalf of both communities and businesses, FM Conway has developed a self-delivery model which combines in-house consultancy expertise with front line operations. FM Conway can deliver initial inspection through to design, delivery, refurbishment works and ongoing maintenance.

Despite its 50 years’ experience in the trade, the brand isn’t resting on its laurels and has recently expanded its materials portfolio to include state-of-the-art flooring screeds to service growing demand from the residential sector across London and the South East of England.

The company has formed a partnership with screeds expert Gypsol, a subsidiary of Francis Flower, for the ongoing supply of anhydrite screed binders, which will be used to manufacture FM Conway’s new flowing screed product – Metroflow.

A further sign of growth, the business has recently relocated its head office from Dartford to Sevenoaks. The company is retaining its former head office in Dartford and converting it to provide an expanded logistics hub, alongside the materials recycling and crusher facilities already located at the site.

(40) AM Norris
  • Sector: Plumbing
  • Date founded: 1971
  • The boss: Julie and Alan Norris
  • Location: Leicestershire
  • Latest turnover: £21m
  • Three-year compound growth rate (%): 19.29
  • Latest EBITDA: £1.1m

AM Norris is a plumbing and heating contractor based in Leicestershire. The company currently works in the new-build, domestic and light-commercial sectors of the industry, and it specialises particularly in renewable energy installations.

Alan Norris became an apprentice plumber aged 15 in 1965, and he started his own business at the age of 21 in 1971. Soon he needed extra labour and took on the business’ first employee who only recently retired in August 2013. In subsequent years, Alan’s wife Julie, his brother Paul and his daughter Donna have all been made directors.

Today the company has over 211 employees, its own warehouse, delivery drivers, dedicated customer care team, invoicing, buying and estimating departments. In addition to this there is also a team of supervisors who are allocated to areas to ensure the smooth running of developments.

The company has been growing fast in recent years, and its previous office premises were extended back in 2014 to accommodate the additional workforce numbers.

The business intends to maintain a constant growth in the hope that, as a larger company, it will be able to become more competitive in the future.

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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