The cover story of the first edition of Real Business, in March 1997, carried our Hot 100 ranking of fast-growth, privately owned UK businesses. The number one-ranked company was, pleasingly, a publisher producing business magazines, including one called The Grower.
The Hot 100 has been published ever since and is one of the most important sources of insight into the heartland UK economy, ranking companies by their average growth in (profitable) turnover over a testing four-year period. There may be only around 30,000 mid sized companies in the UK, but their contribution to the wider economy is crucial. Their health matters. The Hot 100 is the UK’s annual check-up.
Some 1,600 businesses have been identified and profiled over the 15 years of the Hot 100. Each year, we’ve identified businesses that go on to reach lofty heights.
The first Hot 100 featured a wannabe “cellular telephone retailer” called Carphone Warehouse. Whatever happened to them…? We spotlighted rising stars such as chip designer ARM (1998), Boden (1999), the sandwich bar EAT (2002) and Moneysupermarket.com.
Today, these five alone employ roughly 8,000 people and generate revenues somewhere in the region of £6bn. One of the most successful Hot 100 companies of all was Healthcare at Home, founded by former BP executive Charles Walsh. In 2001, it was our top-ranked company; in 2002, it came in at number three. The business is today the UK’s largest home healthcare provider, with around 1,000 employees caring for more than 150,000 patients a year.
Walsh has always been a passionate champion of customer-centric healthcare. Back in 2001, he said: “There is a certain amount of missionary zeal about our organisation, because we all believe so strongly that people should have the option of being treated at home if possible.”
Some Hot 100 companies have shown extraordinary long-term success: Edwin Bessant’s Ceuta Healthcare appeared first in the list in 2001, and is back again in 2013; Leslie Morgan’s Durbin, also in the medical sector, first appeared in 2005, and is still racking up strong growth this year.
You can track the shifts in the UK economy in the Hot 100. As the timeline opposite reminds us, the early/midnoughties saw the emergence of countless high-profile, high-growth consumer-focused businesses. More recently, growth has come from different, more austere sources.
The majority of the companies featured in the Hot 100 have been high-quality examples of entrepreneurial business that have identified strong markets and have had the management skills to deliver sustained growth. This year’s list will be no different.
The Hot 100 2013 is produced in association with Investec, Jordans, Cass Business School and Your Business Your Future. The full list will be announced at the 2013 Investec Entrepreneurs’ Summit, held on June 7, 2013 at the London Corinthia.
Follow Hot 100 and other Real Business entrepreneurial news on Twitter and #invhot100 #entrepreneurs2013.
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