South East: 39 fast-growing companies on covid-19 edition of league table

Published this weekend, the 12th annual Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 league table ranks Britain’s mid-market private companies with the fastest-growing international sales.

39 companies headquartered in the Southeast (compared to 36 last year) have won places on the league table, including 12 new entrants. These regional stars have grown their international sales by an average of 60% a year over the last two years to a total of £1.8 billion, all are profitable and together they employ more than 15,200 people. The figures largely relate to financial periods before Covid-19 struck.

The region’s top-ranked company is new entrant Huel (No 5), the Hertfordshire-based nutrition brand founded in 2015. It has sold 100m meals in 90 countries, and a third of its staff have joined during the pandemic. International sales grew an average of 209% a year over its last two years to reach £39.8m in 2020, on total sales of £71.6m.

Berkshire is home to technology platform provider Wireless Logic – which helped develop digital vending machines and vulnerable people stay connected with personalised devices during the pandemic. Its international sales grew by 107% a year, reaching £39.9m 2020 on total sales of £91.4m.

The companies in the Southeast appear alongside well-known British brands based across the UK including Sweaty Betty, the women’s activewear brand that sells to 195 countries; BrewDog, which was valued at £1b in 2017 and now has 100 bars worldwide; and Brompton, the bicycle manufacturer, which ships to 47 markets.

International Track 200 star alumni include Skyscanner, Fever-Tree and Dr Martens – which featured on the league table in 2013 with exports of £100m, and floated last month valued at £3.7b.

The league table programme is sponsored by HSBC and DHL Express, and compiled by Fast Track, the Oxford-based research and networking events firm.

Amanda Murphy, head of commercial banking, HSBC UK, commented: “After a challenging start to 2021, all eyes are on the companies that will drive a return to growth in 2021. We are confident that the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit of businesses such as those in the Southeast listed on International Track 200 will carry them forward. These companies show the strength, ambition and resilience of businesses across the UK and are the sort of businesses we are proud to support every day”.

Private companies in the Southeast with the fastest-growing international sales – ordered by county then rank.

The national picture

The average international sales growth for the 200 companies was 55% a year, to a total of £8.7b on combined total sales of £19.2b. Together they employ 107,000 staff, having added 32,000 employees to their workforce over the period, some as a result of acquisitions.

London is the most popular location for company headquarters with 62, followed by the southeast (39). There are 27 companies in the Midlands and 21 in the northwest. Of the remainder, 20 are based in the northeast of England (including Yorkshire), 10 in Scotland, seven in the east, seven in the southwest, five in Wales and two in Northern Ireland.

The full league table is published as an eight-page supplement with the business section of The Sunday Times on February 21, both in print and in the tablet edition, and on www.fasttrack.co.uk.