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Powering onwards – the North East Fastest 50 revealed

If 2020 was the year of unprecedented challenge for businesses around the globe, then 2021 was the year of reinvention; characterised by perseverance, innovation and agility.

Damien Charlton, partner at Ward Hadaway

As the 2021 Ward Hadaway North East Fastest 50 list is revealed today, our head of commercial, Damien Charlton, said;

“Many of the businesses listed this year have always embodied the qualities required to thrive in both the good times and the tough times. Drive, determination, and leadership is why they continue to build upon their successes. I’d like to congratulate all the businesses in the Fastest 50, it is always a pleasure to highlight and celebrate such achievements in our region – they’re hard won and deserve recognition.”

The list, as always, highlights high-growth, privately-owned companies and is based on financial data from the last three years of trading.

This year sees some familiar names return. In fact, 50 percent of businesses on the list have appeared at least once before in the 22-year history of the North East Fastest 50.

Testament to stability, longevity and a continued focus on improvement, Sunderland based online bingo company Tombola makes its 9th appearance. Meanwhile, Durham’s Workwear Express, manufacturer DC Handrails and Ironwork Parts and clothing retailer END. appear for an 8th, 7th and 6th consecutive year, respectively.

The 50 companies in the list undoubtedly help to fuel the economy of our North East region, through job creation, innovation and investment, and represent a total combined turnover of £1.6billion, an increase of £550million over the past three years.

Some businesses shine incredibly brightly. Amazingly, the average annual growth of the overall fastest growing business for 2021 is a staggering 97.95 percent.

Our three category winners for 2021 represent the fastest-growing small, medium and large enterprises in the North East, one of whom is our overall winner – and each of them has created its own recipe for success, unique to them alone.

This year, the accolade for the fastest growing North East business goes to Peterlee’s Alexander Technologies Europe, which also takes the prize in the large business category. The firm, which employs over 100 people, manufactures and distributes batteries from its County Durham base and first appeared on the list in 2019.

It’s clear when speaking with Managing Director, Mark Rutherford about what makes the company so successful, that a strong focus on process and innovation and a customer-centric mindset is a large part of the winning formula.

He said; “From our modern UK manufacturing facility we conceive and deliver innovative product solutions, delivering each project on-time and on-budget to get our partners more quickly to revenue.

“Our customer-centric philosophy and priority status with our key suppliers means we deliver outstanding battery products up to ~1kWh, together with critical related services such as supply chain resilience and buffer stock programmes, end-of-life management, and rapid prototyping.”

Wayne Spriggs, founder and CEO of Lusso Stone, the Fastest Growing Medium Business of 2021.

The winner of our medium category is Stockton-based luxury bathroom retailer, Lusso Stone. Wayne Spriggs is its founder and CEO. Speaking about the award, he told us; “Winning the Fastest 50 Award for the fastest growing medium-sized business is inspiring and it feels really good to be recognised for the hard work myself and the team have put into growing this company. I have a goal of building an internationally recognised luxury brand and I will not stop pushing until I achieve that goal!”

Wayne knows the win for Lusso Stone is hard-fought and that grit, determination and a passionate drive for excellence has powered the company to where it is today. He explains; “I remember thinking, I only have £10,000 to make this work. A 10k overdraft, no investor support but a strong belief that there was a genuine demand for the kind of bespoke, high-end bathroom products we provide.” The award is proof that focus and tenacity lead to outstanding results.

Kate Hellens, MD of Hellens Residential, with Julia Thomson, partner at Ward Hadaway.


Our third and final accolade goes to last year’s overall winner, affordable housing provider Hellens Residential, which wins the small business category again.

Kate Hellens, Managing Director, said; “Despite the adversity of the past 18 months we have not lost sight of our mission – to create comfortable and secure homes from which our customers can build stable lives. To, once again, be recognised for our rapid growth, is a testament to the commitment and dedication of our whole team.”

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing more inspiring stories of North East business success, but for now, a huge congratulations to all the businesses featured in the 2021 Ward Hadaway North East Fastest 50.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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