Interviews

Growing Business Awards 2010: Company of the Year shortlist

4 min read

04 October 2010

Digital design; hotels; IT training; biofuels and informatics for the pharmaceutical industry. The Company of the Year shortlist shows that UK companies can be world leaders in the most cutting-edge and global industries.

Little needs to be said about the quality of the 2010 Company of the Year shortlist for the Growing Business Awards. On behalf of Real Business and the CBI, we pay tribute to a quite exceptional group of companies: 

Formed in 1992, Greenergy has risen to a staggering £2.8bn-turnover business. Founded by Andrew Owens, Greenergy supplies fuel to the largest buyers of fuel in the UK – oil companies, bus and logistics groups. It works across all areas of the supply chain, from sourcing and manufacturing fuel and biofuel, to managing delivery to petrol stations and industrial sites. Today it’s the fifth-largest fuel supplier in the UK, having introduced low-slulphur fuels to the UK market.

FDM is an international IT servies provider, with 200-plus blue-chip clients across a range of sectors. That tells only half the story. Founded in 1990, it’s currently a £53m-turnover, highly profitable business that is the UK’s largest graduate IT employer, recruiting 500 IT and numerical science graduates each year. Founded in Sussex in 1990, FDI (as it was then known) focused on placing IT freelancers. In 1996, it acquired Mountfield Software and today FDM trains its own employed IT consultants, and has ofices across the UK and Europe, as well as in the US. The FDM Academy is one of the most respected training facilities for IT graduates in the UK. If the future is information technology, FDM will provide the schooling.

Our third candidate, Apex Hotels, proves that in a tough climate, a privately owned business can outperform bigger, international rivals. Started in 1996, Apex Hotels is a privately owned hotel company that operates seven four-star contemporary hotels within the UK. Against the grain, it’s also opening new hotels: Waterloo Place, Edinburgh in March 2009 and the Apex London Wall Hotel in November 2009, creating 160 new jobs. The newest project, Apex Temple Court, will create an additional 120 positions in London. Apex outperformance is underpinned by Apex’s proprietary “revenue generation index”, which enables the family-owned group to assess individual hotel (and management) performance. The Springfords of Scotland are showing the global hotel giants how service is really done…

Founded way back in the mid-nineties, AKQA was one of the original UK digital agencies. Some 15 years on, it’s lost nothing of its creative edge and now has offices across the world, in Amsterdam, Berlin, London, New York, San Francisco, Shanghai and Washington DC. Founded by the utterly inspirational Ajaz Ahmed, AKQA is today a very profitable £35m-turnover business. And try this as a client list: Coca-Cola, Fiat, Heineken, Nike, Orange and Xbox. A company Britain should be very proud of. Chairman Ajaz Ahmed pictured above.

Probably the least known of all the Company of the Year candidates – but absolutely not to be underestimated – IDBS is a global supplier of innovative data management and analytics to health science R&D organisations. IDBS’ solutions provide complete data infrastructures for the entire R&D sector: from the examination of the human genome at the scientist’s bench, through the clinic, to translational medicine initiatives and pay-for-performance healthcare monitoring. Founded by CEO Neil Kipling and based in Guildford, IDBS is an international success story out of the UK, with offices in the US, EU, Australia and China. It also has representation in Japan and India, giving IDBS deep penetration into one of the world’s most resilient sectors.

The Growing Business Awards are held on November 25 at the London Marriott Grosvenor Square, in the company of many of Britain’s finest business leaders and entrepreneurs. All booking details are at the Growing Business Awards website.