The annual Sunday Times Virgin Atlantic Fast Track 100 league table that ranks Britain’s private companies with the fastest-growing sales has been published.
Well-known names such as Five Guys, BrewDog and Charlotte Tilbury Beauty all feature in this year’s 100 companies. On average, the 100 companies grew their sales between 233 per cent per annum, and 46 per cent per annum over the last three years to a total of £3.1 billion. In total, they employ 16,900 staff, with 12,200 new jobs having been created over the period.
This year, 22 women are among the founders or chief executives of the companies – a joint record with 2017, and up from only 11 in 2016. The 12 per cent of the founders who are womencompares favourably to just four per cent in the wider scale-up community, according to statistics from Beauhurst.
More than two-thirds of the companies in this year’s Fast Track 100 were set up in the last 10 years – including Beavertown Brewery (set up in 2011 by Logan Plant, son of Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant) and pizza chain Homeslice (founded by Alan and Mark Wogan, sons of the late Sir Terry Wogan).
More than a quarter of the companies were founded or are run by families, including husband-and-wife teams, siblings or parents and children. In addition to the Wogan brothers running Homeslice, examples include husband-and-wife team Alan and Juliet Barratt, who founded sports nutrition brand Grenade in 2009 after meeting in the gym.
Topping this year’s league table is Midwinter Solutions, set up by two former employees of Clinigen, which topped the Fast Track 100 in 2011. Midwinter Solutions works with 70 global biopharmaceutical manufacturers, supplying drugs used in clinical trials. It saw sales grow by 233 per cent per annum over the last three years, to £61.8 million this year, £11 million of which were overseas.
Virgin Atlantic is the title sponsor of Fast Track 100 this year, taking over from Virgin Group, and having previously been the launch title sponsors in 1997. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Group, which has supported Fast Track for all 22 years, commented: “Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of UK business and have always been the beating heart of positive change. In a climate of uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to recognise those entrepreneurs, like those of this year’s Fast Track 100, who are making the world a better place for everybody.”
Included with this year's list, were the Fast Track Disruptors to Watch list, 10 companies using new business models or innovative technologies to potentially disrupt their markets, and the Fast Track Ones to Watch list, 10 companies that did not meet the criteria of the league table, but have either achieved or are forecasting strong sales growth. Among those on the Disruptors to Watch list are Graphcore, which has raised $110m from highprofile backers such as Silicon Valley venture capital firm Sequoia Capital; it claims its computer processors are 10 to 100 times faster than existing alternatives and Owlstone Medical, which has raised £56m to develop a breathalyser capable of detecting cancer earlier than existing alternatives, saving 100,000 lives and health care providers $1.5bn per year.
In the Ones to Watch companies this year is Huel, which produces powdered food products that can be used as a meal, it raised £20 million from venture capital firm Highland Europe and says it has sold 30 million meals across 80 countries since launching in 2015. Also in the Ones to Watch list is Maus, a phone case designer that was founded thanks to a loan from Virgin StartUp. Viral marketing helped the company's sales grow sixfold to £5.4 million this year, it has raised $2.4 million from crowdfunding and generates 85 per cent of its sales overseas.