Interviews

Growing Business Awards 2010: Global Outlook and Expansion shortlist

5 min read

12 October 2010

The companies on this year’s Global Outlook and Expansion shortlist span a diverse range of sectors. Meet the businesses putting down roots in foreign soil – and growing revenues as a result.

From an international catering and events firm and a bin-lorry manufacturer to the Premier League – these are the firms in the running for this year’s coveted Global Outlook and Expansion gong: 

The Global Infusion Group umbrella, comprised of nine catering and event-support brands, is just that – truly global. Originally set up in 1984 to cater for touring production crews and artists from the UK and European music industry, the business has expanded significantly, taking in major music festivals, international sporting events, corporate roadshows, film and TV location catering and corporate hospitality across Europe, the States, Asia and the Middle East. Impressive scope for a business headquartered in Bucks. 

So what’s Global Infusion’s secret to bagging a multi-national client list boasting the likes of Microsoft, Mercedez-Benz, Red Bull, Qatar Airways and the Asian Games? They’ve been sure to target countries that have shown impressive growth during recent years – the Middle East and Asia in particular. So while UK spend is down, Global Infusion Group is flourishing – the company turned over £7.7m last year, and forecasts an extra £1.3m turnover to be generated from its overseas operations alone this year.

Set up in 2006, when university pals James Street and Neil Waller spotted a gap in the market for decent online travel guides, the Mydestinationinfo.com network today spans more than 65 destinations worldwide and attracts a whopping seven million travellers to its sites each year. Mydestinationinfo.com’s franchises are run by locals on the ground, who have an unrivalled knowledge of the destination and who can negotiate travel discounts with local businesses, so travellers can rest assured they’re getting the best deal. The company grew by more than 400 per cent last year and, in May this year, smashed its 2010 target of growing is franchise network to 60 destinations.

Meet the UK’s largest privately owed designer and manufacturer of children’s toys – HTI (Halsalls Toys International). With offices in Germany and Hong Kong, a manufacturing base in mainland China, 50 per cent of its employees based in non-UK locations and 20 per cent of its £66m revenues generated from customers in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australasia and the Americas, it’s easy to see why HTI made this shortlist. Led by 42-year-old CEO John Hutt (who joined the business as a “general dogsbody” aged 17, before leading an MBO 20 years later), HTI develops toy ranges under licence for brands such as Hello Kitty, Toy Story, Barbie and the Simpsons, to name just a few. Turnover this year is set to hit £75m. 

When local authorities across the UK reigned in their spending and demand for bin lorries dropped, this municipal waste vehicle manufacturer didn’t even break a sweat because, at the same time, demand for Faun Trackway’s ground mobility systems was on the up. Used by 40 armed forces worldwide, the aluminium Trackway is a portable temporary roadway, which helps defence vehicles move safely across snow, ice, mud, sand and swamp. Faun Trackway earmarked territories undergoing military expansion – the Far East and emerging economies such as Russia – and employed local agents in these countries to build personal contacts, negotiate with local businesses and secure partnerships. 

In 2007, when Faun Trackway first activated this network of local agents, the company secured just under £1m in overseas sales. As the network grew, so did sales and, by 2009, Faun Trackway was pulling in £5.5m from across the globe. And with a £16m order to the Turkish military being completed this month and further deals with Colombia and Malaysia in the pipeline, it’s well on track to hit its international sales target of £17m.

Chelsea had a bumper 2009/10 season – and so did the Premier League. Despite testing economic conditions, it increased international rights sales by more than 80 per cent and launched a new broadcast content service for international rights holders, consolidating its position as the biggest continuous sporting event in the world. Thanks to audience growth of 14 per cent in the 2009/10 season, the “greatest show on earth” is now watched by 580m households in 211 territories across the world. Perhaps the best comparison to use to measure the Premier League’s success is against its peer leagues across Europe – its rights deal is worth more than the four other major leagues put together.