The Fastest 50 analysed
17th October 2019
The Fastest 50 analysed by Damien Charlton, Partner in Ward Hadaway’s Commercial Law team.
Click here to view the list in full.
Every year we look forward to the Fastest 50 event and celebrating the achievements of our vibrant business community. It’s important to Ward Hadaway that we continue to highlight success and raise regional aspirations, and this year is no different.
The Fastest 50 is a firm fixture in the region’s business calendar and a barometer of commercial success. In some ways, the 2019 results are particularly impressive, given the uncertain commercial, political and economic times in which we live.
All of the companies listed here have consistently grown their businesses over several years, whilst remaining profitable – something we can all applaud. They are the businesses that don’t stand still, no matter what challenges they face. They help attract investment, generating wealth and creating employment across the North East.
What’s noteworthy about this year’s Ward Hadaway North East Fastest 50 is the breadth and depth of businesses we see listed. It spans a wide range of sectors from construction and engineering to digital agencies and online retailers.
This year we see a raft of new businesses make it onto the list, as well as some that made a return. 14 companies managed to hold their positions on the Fastest 50 List for a second consecutive year, with 36 new entries.
Having worked with and met many of the businesses on the list, it is difficult not to be impressed by their commitment to innovation.
This year’s winning medium size enterprise, NBT Group, providing stock control through the use of storeroom management and intelligent vending machines, has now won two years in a row – and innovation has played a huge part in their journey to date. Chairman Toby Bridges, the fourth generation of the family to run the business, says he likes to think of NBT Group as the 110 year-old start up.
Toby and his team are continuously innovating, automating client’s supply chains by installing state of the art vending and people-less stores. The technology controls the exact supply of products to his clients at a time and place convenient for them. NBT Group is now looking to take its services to Europe as they scale up internationally.
A dedicated and engaged workforce also supports these high-flying companies, as Chris Baty, Global Finance Director of Northern Gas and Power, winner of the Fastest Growing Large Business, reveals; “I’m most proud of our people. We are very much a people business and we have the very best consultants and that’s at the heart of our success.
“Aim high, never give up, be resilient, execute, follow through and the sky’s the limit. The North East is a great place to do business. It’s a fun place to work, friendly people, hardworking, great skills – they’re a credit to the UK.”
Engineering, construction and manufacturing companies all have a strong showing in this year’s list. This includes battery manufacturer Alexander Technologies, ranked 39th, Billingham’s FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies UK, developing and making recombinant proteins, viral vaccines and gene therapies ranked 38th, and Chester-le-Street’s Komatsu, making excavators, and ranked 25th.
This backs up research by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) revealing Advanced Manufacturing accounts for 15.3% of the North East LEP area’s GVA and 11.3% of employment. The sector also forms a key strand of the NELEP’s growth strategy for the region, with many of the companies we see on our list making a significant contribution to that growth.
The innovation theme plays a key role in that growth. Paul Ryan is Chief Financial Officer at Arcinova, who ranked 9th on the list. The contract development and manufacturing business works with global pharmaceutical and biotechnology clients on drug development.
Paul said; “The end goal is to make patients better and improve their lives. Many of our customers are international and we’re competing on a global stage. We’re up against very bright companies, so we have to be constantly innovative, agile and extremely customer focussed. So far, we’re managing to do that and long may it continue.”
Another success factor sees those businesses with a strong online trading strategy flying high. These businesses include second placed Large business, and last year’s category winner, END. Clothing and Crafter’s Companion, who deliver a strong showing on the list, in part due to hugely profitable online platforms. As well as Mediaworks and SaleCycle who support online businesses.
To make it onto the Fastest 50 list is an achievement in itself and everyone at Ward Hadaway gives their warm congratulations to the companies that made it.
So, what does it take to make it to the top of the list? James Huntingdon, Managing Director of Dunelm Geotechnical & Environmental, the Fastest Growing Small Business, explains; “My advice to businesses hoping to one day win the award; try and define the idea of what you want to achieve, put your customer first, encourage your staff, train your staff and really what I learned from the previous owner of the business is to always be there for your customer when others aren’t.”
To win an award sets these businesses apart, and special mention must go to the three winners; Fastest Growing Large Business and overall winner, Northern Gas and Power, Fastest Growing Medium Business for the second year running, NBT Group and Fastest Growing Small Business, Dunelm Geotechnical & Environmental. Our congratulations to them all.
The 2019 Ward Hadaway Fastest 50 has been compiled using publicly available information from Companies House and is independently verified.
For further information, please get in touch.