How retail became Britain's fastest growing business sector
6 min read
26 June 2015
London's tech industry was declared omnipotent during London Technology Week. But for all of the headline-snatching statistics that show the sector's success, Britain's retail industry is the fastest growing, which makes it the one to watch.
The Hot 100 2015 list has been revealed, and it saw tens of familiar faces secure spots on the list once again, a result of a seemingly steely determination not to become complacent.
Of course, the technology space is an incredibly hot sector in Britain at present. Over the past couple of years innovators have gathered in their thousands to disrupt the industry.
No longer is the market solely focused on the likes of Apple, Google and Facebook – these larger firms are looking to smaller startups and acquiring them, effectively proving their value.
London’s technology industry has been hailed as the champion of Europe and a potential contender to dethrone America’s almighty Silicon Valley.
That said, it’s the retail industry that investors and entrepreneurs should focus on.
With this year’s Hot 100 finalised, almost a quarter of businesses, 23 in total, are retail and are dominating the 100.
Retail entrepreneur Mark Pearson, the founder of MyVoucherCodes, sought to capitalise on this growing trend in May with the launch of a new £30m VC fund for disruptive retail startups.
Elsewhere, two young entrepreneurs from Supa Academy have aligned with DJ Edith Bowman, Facebook, Pepsi Max and River Island to support rising retail tycoons.
Companies representing the retail sector in this year’s Hot 100 include the likes of furniture firm JB Global. Interestingly, this business started as a seller on eBay well before the ecommerce boom truly exploded, aided by smartphones.
It was able to get ahead of the game and secure a loyal following, in turn becoming eBay UK’s largest retailer by turnover.
Today’s retailers are increasingly focused on taking their high street services into the digital world, but JB Global did the opposite. Its sales allowed the firm to move into physical locations with the Oak Furniture Land showrooms, 50 of which are spread across the UK.
Operating in another area of the retail world is B-sporting, the firm behind Sportsshoes.com, which achieved a revenue of £33.5m. The reverse of JB Global, the company has closed its stores to focus on the ecommerce explosion, which supports Pearson’s decision to back the market.
“The ecommerce sector is thriving and Fuel.Ventures will be investing in the most ambitious and scalable opportunities. Our mission is to create, invest and grow companies,” Pearson said.
While some firms on the high street may have struggled in recent years, it’s become clear that the British retail industry is back and stronger than ever.
Read more about the 2015 Hot 100:
- Is London losing its hold as the UK’s hub for growing businesses?
- Unveiling The Hot 100 2015 list of companies you cannot ignore
- From 1997-2007: The historical high-rankers of The Hot 100 fast-growth British firms
With the IT and software sector in third place, manufacturing and engineering is the second fastest growing industry in the UK.
Real Business discovered first hand that the market is being disrupted significantly with accomplishments from the likes of Amanda White, who was crowned the Young Female Achiever at the First Women Awards on 11 June.
Former engineer for HS2, White is now the head of rail at Transport for Greater Manchester, and successfully saw off competition from rival entrants in areas including tech.
Luton Engineering Services was in at number 13 in the Hot 100 2015, which makes it the fastest growing in its sector with a CAGR of 67.08 per cent and £41.5m turnover.
And demonstrating how females are indeed helping the change the direction of the industry, the firm is led by Shirley Russell Aboagye.
In fact, National Women’s Engineering Day took place on 23 June and saw HS2 send its female engineers out to a school in order to help girls see that the marketplace can be an ideal career choice for them.
“Women currently make up a tiny proportion of our surveyors, engineers and construction professionals. We need to overhaul the sector’s image, so engineering and construction are a more attractive career option for women,” said transport minister Tariq Ahmed.
“A diverse workforce means a more successful workforce, which is why I am backing this campaign.”
Check out the full breakdown of the UK’s fastest growing sectors below:
IT, software and telecoms: 10
Financial and professional services: 7
Manufacturing and engineering: 13
Construction, property and related services: 10
Food and drink: 8
Retail and related services: 23
Energy and commodities: 2
Logistics and distribution: 3
Pharmaceuticals, medical and related services: 1
Care services: 2
Leisure and travel: 4