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Britain's fastest-grobritains-fastest-growing-private-companies-revealedwing private companies revealed

EntrepreneurCountry Global Monday, 06 December 2010.

Britain's 100 privately-owned companies with the fastest-growing sales are revealed in the latest Sunday Times Fast Track 100 league table, published this weekend.

Now in its 14th year, the league table has become the definitive barometer of private company growth. This year's league table features a host of well-known brands including Moonpig.com (No 17), Jack Wills (No 37), AllSaints (No 54), Cath Kidston (No 69), Ten Lifestyle Management (No 98) and Go Ape (No 100).

Despite the downturn, over the past three years, the companies have increased their sales by an average of 85% a year from £727m to a combined £4bn; and profits are up significantly on last year. During the same time, they have collectively created 16,474 new jobs, employing a total of 22,633 staff. Seven of the companies have secured venture capital or private equity financing in the past year, compared to only two companies on last year's table.

Ranked in first place was Buyphones.net, a Derbyshire based online mobile phones retailer whose annual sales increase over 3 years was a staggering 340.15%. In second place was the Subocean Group which lays sub-sea power- transmission cables for off-shore wind farms.

Sir Richard Branson of Virgin, which has sponsored the league table for all 14 years, commented:
"2010 has been a year of much change for the UK in political and economic terms. Business has weathered a couple of the toughest years I can remember, but we are starting to see some pick- up in key sectors. Against this economic background the strong performance of the Fast Track 100 companies is to be especially applauded."

The Fast Track 100 league table is compiled by Fast Track, the UK's leading face-to-face networking events and research company which focuses on top-performing private companies and entrepreneurs. Additional sponsorship was provided by BDO, Microsoft and Royal Mail.

Sustainable growth
This year's Fast Track 100 league table has seen a significant number of companies demonstrating sustained growth with 37 featuring for at least the second time, and nine have appeared for at least three consecutive years.
Industries

Notable industry groups include consumer goods, such as online and high street retailers. They represent a quarter of the league table, and include this year's No 1 company, Buymobilephones.net, whose sales have grown 340% a year in the last three years to £24.5m. The food and drink industry features ten companies such as baby food producer Ella's Kitchen (No 14) and pie baker Higgidy (No 43).

The leisure industry has nine companies, including travel agencies and tour operators Your Golf Travel (No 6), Planet Cruise (No 5) and adventure course operator Go Ape (No 100).

Profitability
The one hundred companies generated combined profits of £280m, substantially up from last year's £198m. 47 of the companies report pre-tax profits of more than £1m, and of these, six have profits of £10m or greater. Of particular note is pension administrator AJ Bell (No 94), which recorded the highest profit margin on the league table, with 42.7%.

Female owners
Women entrepreneurs and investors are again well represented on this year's table. Like last year, 27 companies have female founders, co-founders, or shareholders holding stakes in the business of 20% or greater. These include contract caterer Catering Academy (No 75), co-founded by Stacey Rose and Louise Wymer; events producer Liz Hobbs Group (No 20) run by former British and world champion water skier; and lifestyle retailer Cath Kidston (69), also founded by its namesake.

Green credentials
12 of this year's companies stand out for their green focus. Sub-sea construction provider Subocean Group (No 2) lays sub-sea power transmission cables for off-shore wind farms. Electrical manufacturer and recycler Trojan Electronics (No 89) recycles 1,200 tonnes a year for retail clients. powerPerfector (No 10) distributes devices that have saved its customers £57m in energy bills and 370,000 tonnes of carbon emissions over 6 years.

Three companies on the table have capitalised on the growing uptake of cycling, providing bike-riding apparel: Rapha Racing (No 50), Endura (No 96) and Wiggle (No 91).

Regional breakdown
Most Fast Track 100 companies are headquartered in London (32), followed by the Southeast (18). The remainder breaks down as follows: Midlands (12), Southwest (12), Northwest (11), Northeast (7), Scotland (5), East (2) and Wales (1).
The full findings are published in a special 10-page supplement, with the business section of The Sunday Times on 5 December and on www.fasttrack.co.uk.

The Fast Track 100 is compiled by Fast Track, the UK's leading face-to-face networking events company for top-performing private companies and entrepreneurs.

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