The companies shortlisted for the International Business of the Year category for the 2011 Growing Business Awards are…
- WFEL: WFEL is a world-leading niche defence engineering business that exports to 40 different armed forces worldwide. The £35m-turnover, Stockport-based business is a specialist in tactical bridging, for use in military and disaster relief operations. Overseas sales represent more than 90 per cent of overall revenues, and WFEL has recently secured an £8.5m contract with the Turkish armed forces, the first deal it’s ever completed with that country. And in February this year, WFEL was selected to supply the Swiss armed forces, in a £60m four-year contract.
- Team Telecom Group: Team Telecom Group is a communications specialist that’s increased its international sales by 39 per cent year on year to markets such as the US, Australia and China; today these account for 51 per cent of group business. The international strategy has been galvanised by CEO Mike Norfield, who led a £33m MBO in 2010. Under Mike’s leadership, TTG has opened offices in Beijing and Taiwan; targeted, and built business in, the US; and invested heavily in new technology and R&D.
- Ella’s Kitchen: Founded in 2006 on a father’s concern at the lack of healthy options available for his young daughter, Ella’s Kitchen offers toddlers “healthy, happy and fun food that doesn’t cost the earth”, and has been embraced worldwide. Of total £30m sales, £10.5m are international, from markets as far afield as Australia, Estonia and the US. That’s a 262 per cent rise in international business, including a significant chunk (25 per cent of overall exports) from the challenging US market. The vision of that Dad – CEO Paul Lindley – is fast becoming the first global brand of premium food for pre-toddlers.
- Lo-Q: You’re at a theme park with your family; the queues for the best rides fill you with dread. Thanks to the vision of Lo-Q founding director Leonard Sim, such experiences could be a thing of the past. For Lo-Q’s ride-reservation technology enables visitors, through proprietary hand-held units, to understand – remotely – just when they’ve reached the front ofthe queue. In the past three years, Lo-Q has more than doubled exports, producing total international revenues of £35m over the period. A key part of the growth strategy has been US water parks. Based in Reading and Atlanta, Georgia, this is a UK business delivering serious results and soothing parents and children worldwide!
- Unruly: Unruly is the world’s only large-scale social video specialist. Founded in 2006, and now employing 100 people (100 per cent said they “love” their job in a recent staff survey), Unruly has a presence in five international markets. The aim is for 300 per cent annual turnover growth and £60m in sales by 2014. Each new territory has its own country MD; each launch MD follows Unruly’s proprietary “StartUp Bible” to keep the Unruly values alive across the world. The big recent breakthrough was the US market, and the young business has already run social video campaigns for 360-plus clients.
- Fine + Rare: Fine + Rare trades fine wines online. Its 30,000-plus wine list is more than ten times’ bigger than its nearest competitor. Wines come from around the world, though mainly Bordeaux and Burgundy; customers, too, come from around the world, with growing numbers in the Far East. This year, turnover looks set for £72m. Founded and still led by Mark Bedini and Bud Cuchet, the London-based business has developed a unique cellar-management tool, My Portfolio, that enables customers to trade wines in their cellars directly on the market. In the world of international wine trading, the UK has an unrivalled global star.
Share this story