Leisure & entertainment

Miniclip (22nd) is a company with its finger on the pulse of the 21st century. And, according to Rob Small, MD of the £19.2m-turnover sporting equipment and gaming firm, there’s never been a better time to be in business: “Online games are a fun, cheap alternative to pricey console games and other leisure activities during an economic downturn. 2008 was a good year for us – but 2009 will be even better.” Miniclip’s website offers adults and children a bewildering choice of online games and puzzles, ranging from Alien Disorder and Overkill Apache to Wave Jumper and Commando 2.

Cashcade (23rd) is a repeat entrant from last year’s Hot 100 with a website that’ll make you sit up and pay attention. The top of the screen reads: “Everyone’s at it, are you?” Fear not, the “at it” referred to is simply playing Baccarat. Founded in 2000, Cashcade pulls in sales of £15.6m and its sites have more than two million registered users, many of them accessing its online bingo sites, FoxyBingo.com and OnlineBingo.co.uk.

Goldtrail Holidays (39th) is also back in our list for the second year running. Founded by Kadir Aydin, the company has become the UK’s largest independent tour operator to Turkey – and now its tours are venturing into Greece as well. Last year, Goldtrail’s turnover was £36.4m – huge growth from £8.3m back in 2005.

Travel entrepreneur Nick Munday is running a cracking business, too. Having sold his £225m-turnover travel firm to MyTravel in 2001, he could have jetted off for his own bit of R&R. Instead, he bought another one. Classic Collection Holidays (78th) is aimed at the higher-end market, and has some serious clout behind it, including the president of ABTA who is a non-executive director. The company was established in 1988 and was a respected brand, but the former owner had little inclination to take it further. “We had to speculate to accumulate. We added several new destinations and put in thecornerstones for growth. Profits halved but we had the courage of our convictions and blasted on relentlessly,” says Munday. If the company is not turning over £50m by 2011, Munday says he’ll “be amazed”.

The secret of success? Good, old-fashioned service and respect, both to staff and customers. In his first year at Classic Collection Holidays, he personally visited 350 travel agents around the country. “I was trained by a family whose approach was to treat people as you would like to be treated yourself. It was a humbling lesson.”

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