Nothing, not even economic chaos, can keep Net-a-porter (38th) down. Net-a-porter describes itself as “the world’s premier online fashion retailer” and, with sales of £55m in 2008, it’s hard to argue. Net-a-porter is the brainchild of French fashionista Natalie Massenet – no surprise given the French reputation for being trés chic. Radley + Co (20th) is another retailer making a repeat appearance in our list. Lowell Harder started designing handbags and selling them in Camden Market back in 1984. In 2007, private equity group Exponent stumped up £130m to take over her brand. Exponent’s financial muscle has paid off handsomely, with sales reaching £48.9m. Touker Suleyman and his brother Mustafa are busy expanding their fashion brand Hawes & Curtis (59th). The pair bought the shirt brand just over four years ago and are about to open the “biggest shirt store in Europe” in London’s Jermyn Street. From City boys to snowboarders, Sean Thomas and George Treves started out flogging handmade tops and skiwear in the French Alps before opening their first South London shop, White Stuff (88th), in 1991. Pentland Group (71st) is the sage of this sector. Iconic sports marques such as Speedo and Lacoste are owned by this company. Established in 1932 as The Liverpool Shoe company, Pentland has expanded and diversified under the influence of Stephen Rubin who took over from his father nearly 40 years ago. London-based Lawrence Group (33rd) is another family business, run by Lawrence Collins and his wife, Jill. This dealer in precious metals, jewellery retailer and property investor turned over a glittering £65m last year, with £1.4m in pre-tax profits. “We never claim to be the cheapest – but we aim to give clients a consistent service at a fair price,” says Collins. Chris Parker describes his firm as the “John Lewis of range cookers”. Parker runs £5.6m-turnover cooking and domestic appliance product-design company Bigblue Product Design (37th) along with Andrew Longfield. While Bigblue helps you kit out your kitchen, London-based Mega Marble (100th), owned by Rafi and Nicola Mimoni, can install the flooring. Titus International (60th) is the white knight for thousands of DIYers, selling furniture fastenings and accessories in outlets such as B&Q (via distributors), or as part of an assembly kit, where customers include Gower and Ikea. For the tech savvy among you, Intro 2020 (97th) imports and distributes photographic, digital and optical products. Founded by Norman Harrington, the firm turned over £18m last year. Any photography magazine worth its salt has profiled products from the Berkshire-based company.
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