It’s great to see creative companies dominating the International Fast Track 200
The International Track 200, published in The Sunday Times last week, ranks Britain’s mid-market private companies with the fastest-growing overseas sales. Coffee company Lincoln & York topped this year's list, but here at Creative Entrepreneurs we were delighted to see a number of creative companies included.
A total of 64 creative companies, from fashion and design, to gaming and publishing and beyond, made this year's International Track 200 list, making the creative sector the most represented on the list. What an outstanding achievement for the UK’s creative sector, and a great indication of it's international growth and success!
The majority of the creative companies on the list fall within the category of technology, media and telecoms with a total of 46 businesses, up from 43 last year. This includes digital design studio ustwo founded by Matt Miller, the star of our very first Founder Files. Congratulations!
Looking at the ranking as a whole, the average international growth for companies is a staggering 62%. It’s also great to see that 104 of the total companies are owned by their founder and entrepreneur, and 37 companies are founded or co-founded by women - that’s a 32% increase on last year - with our friend and creative entrepreneur Monica Vinader, a jewellery manufacturer, heading the lot. Also important to note that 67 of the Fast Track companies have headquarters in London, a great reminder of the significance of our capital as a hub for creative start-ups.
As a whole, these companies are currently exporting to all corners of the world and employ 106,000 staff, having added 24,000 jobs over the same period, and the creative sector is part of that job-making machine now more than ever.
Here’s the full breakdown of the creative companies that made it on to the International Track 200:
Cult Beauty (#3, 213.18%) Online beauty retailer
Cult Beauty sell products from emerging labels like Huda Beauty to international brands such as Charlotte Tilbury (another one of our Founder Files!). The business took off in 2008 by the hands of co-founders Alexia Inge, 41, and Jessica DeLuca, 43, started the business in 2008, with their current co-chief executive Murray Salmon, 47, joining in 2011. According to the Sunday Times, overseas turnover, generated in Europe and in growth markets such as the Middle East, hit £15.6m last year, driven by social media campaigns and the distribution of niche brands.
White Light (#6, 194.94%) Entertainment production supplier
Co-founded by chairman John Simpson, 75, in 1971, this company supplied lighting for the first production of cult musical The Rocky Horror Show, and now they have diversified into audiovisual services and staging for the theatre, concerts and more. Two years ago, White Light won a large deal with a theme park in the Middle East, which boosted overseas sales to £6.8m last year.
MiQ (#10, 156.93%) Digital marketing agency
Co-founders Gurman Hundal, 34, and Lee Puri, 44, founded this digital marketing agency in 2010 to help clients use data to target their marketing. Its proprietary software provides directed advertising campaigns for brands such as Audi, Mastercard and Sony.
ITG (#11, 148.39%) Marketing technology provider
Set up in 2009 by Simon Ward, ITG offers data-driven marketing services in 120 countries for brands such as Heineken, Puma and Renault. In 2016, the Birmingham company expanded by acquiring data management specialist Creator for an undisclosed sum.
Pottermore (#13, 141.55%) Digital publisher
Pottermore is the global digital publisher of the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts series, as well as the entertainment and news channel for JK Rowling’s Wizarding World. Its publications are sold worldwide by retailers such as Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Google and ita international sales were £37.7m in 2017.
The&Partnership (#15, 134.45%) Advertising agency
This communications and advertising group manages campaigns for clients such as Toyota, Lexus and The Wall Street Journal. It was co-founded in 2001 by chairman Johnny Hornby, 51, and is backed by ad giant WPP. Spanning four continents, with regional hubs in New York, London and Toronto, it expanded across 17 new European markets and doubled in size last year by embedding agencies within clients’ offices. Overseas turnover reached £187.9m in 2017, lifted by winning Toyota’s European contract.
Gymshark (#16, 128.51%) Online sportswear retailer
Ben Francis, 26, started this fitness clothing brand in 2012 at the age of just 20. Since then its range of vests, hoodies, T-shirts and leggings has gone global. The Solihull firm has nurtured a styleconscious fan base by sponsoring popular YouTubers, Instagrammers and bloggers with a combined following of 30m. It sells to 177 countries, including the US, where it makes about 40% of its sales. Exports hit £30.8m last year under chief executive Steve Hewitt, 45.
Missguided (#21, 114.13%) Fashion retailer
Founded in 2009 by Nitin Passi, 35, this multi-channel retailer sells celebrity and trend-inspired women’s fashion with the help of brand ambassadors such as supermodel Jourdan Dunn and singer Nicole Scherzinger. It releases up to 1,000 new styles a week on its eight international websites, and sales across France, Germany and America helped international turnover hit £87.5m in 2017. It announced plans to cut 50 of its 800 staff in February, and in March struck a deal with retail group Azadea to launch franchise stores and online shopping in the Middle East.
Mountain Warehouse (#24, 102.19%) Outdoor clothing retailer
This outdoor clothing chain has more than 285 shops across Britain, Europe and North America, and its online business ships to 100 countries. It doubled international sales to £46.4m in 2017, boosted by store openings and strong growth online. The retailer is run by founder Mark Neale, 50, who took back control of the business in 2013 after an £85m buyout from private equity firm LDC. The company plans to open outlets in Holland and the Czech Republic this year and expand its presence in the US.
Sahara (#27, 98.74%) Audiovisual equipment supplier
Founded in 1924, Kent-based Sahara Presentation Systems began life selling typewriters. Now led by Kevin Batley, 63, and his brother Nigel, 60, it supplies audiovisual products from brands including Google and Panasonic. It also designs and makes the Clevertouch range of interactive touchscreens, which are distributed worldwide for use in education. In 2017 it acquired Sedao, a digital signage company, and saw international sales rise to £25.7m.
Jellyfish (#30, 97.03%) Digital marketing agency
Based in the Shard, central London, Jellyfish provides advertising, paid search and data analytics, including Google Analytics and DoubleClick, to clients such as Skype, Under Armour and Samsung. Run by chief executive Rob Pierre, 44, its fast-growing US division now has four offices, and it also has operations in South Africa. It opened in Barcelona last year to service fashion and fragrance business Puig, whose brands include Nina Ricci, Paco Rabanne and Jean Paul Gaultier. International sales were £38.3m in 2017.
Trutex (#32, 93.23%) School uniform supplier
The Qatar Foundation is just one of the Middle Eastern institutions whose school uniforms are supplied by this Lancashire company. Established in 1865 as the Clitheroe Shirting Company, it is now owned by the management team, which bought the business from private equity firm Endless in 2014. A demand for bespoke, British-style school uniforms in Dubai and Abu Dhabi helped overseas sales hit £1.9m in the year to January 2017. Trutex is led by managing director Matthew Easter, 42.
Touch Associates (#34, 89.05%) Event communications agency
Employing hi-tech digital content to encourage audience interaction, this Surrey business runs corporate events for global giants such as Ford and Merck. Co-founder Patrick Collins, 52, launched the company in 2012, and by 2016 had increased international sales to £19.4m. In March last year, Touch merged with Milton Keynes agency DBMT and opened a second US office.
Cinesite (#36, 88.33%) Visual effects and animation
The James Bond and Harry Potter film franchises are just two examples of this Emmy award-winning company’s work. Cinesite produces visual effects and feature animations for the likes of Disney, 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures Animation. It was founded in 1991 as a division of Kodak before chief executive Antony Hunt, 56, led a management buyout in 2012. It bought two Canadian companies, Image Engine and Nitrogen Studios, in 2015 and 2017, for undisclosed sums, helping overseas sales reach £36.1m last year.
The Hut Group (#45, 75.04%) Online retailer
This online retailer sells premium health and beauty goods via 166 websites. A string of acquisitions, including Berlinbased beauty subscription service Glossybox, helped overseas sales to hit £512.4m in 2017. It says it is valued at £3.25bn following recent share sales by private investors, and it is backed by KKR and BlackRock. Founder Matt Moulding, 46, leads the Manchester firm.
Monica Vinader (48,73.23%) Jewellery designer
Celebrities across the world including the Duchess of Cambridge, Olivia Palermo and Rita Ora, are fans of this Norfolk company’s jewellery. Monica Vinader, 49, founded her company in 2008, and it now has 15 international boutiques, as well as four in London and an ecommerce operation. Piper Private Equity and Winona Capital invested £20m in 2016, helping fund expansion in America. Doubling US revenues boosted international sales to £15.9m in 2017.
MNC (#49, 71.85%) Media agency
This media agency turns fast-growing brands, such as Moonpig and Oak Furniture Land, into household names. MNC plans and buys advertising, and also shapes its clients’ marketing strategies. Founded in 1997 by Andrew McCutcheon, 53, the London firm set up an employee trust in 2016, which now owns 51% of the group. International sales hit £15.9m in 2016, boosted by contracts with European brands such as Shpock, the boot sale app.
Fundamental Media (#51, 69.81%) Media agency
Fundamental Media advises global fund management companies on how to market their funds to investors. It plans and buys media, and its services are backed by proprietary technology that provides fund marketing intelligence across more than 20 countries. Chief executive Angus Maclaine, 43, founded the London agency in 2003 and has since opened offices in Dubai, Hong Kong and Boston. International sales hit £34.8m in 2016 and the company now plans to expand to Sydney and Tokyo.
Pureprint (#52, 69.66%) Printing services provider
This East Sussex firm prints annual reports for 34 of the FTSE 100 companies. It also produces marketing material and packaging for the likes of Jack Wills, Office and Toyota, as well as fine art books for Sotheby’s and the Gagosian gallery. Pureprint was founded in 1926 by the grandfather of current chief executive Mark Handford, 53. The business is backed by BGF, which invested £5.3m in 2014. International sales hit £6.8m in 2017, boosted by growth in the US and Europe.
CVP (#54, 68.86%) Audiovisual equipment supplier
This business grew out of a wedding video venture set up by cameraman Phil Baxter in 1986. Today, it supplies professional video, broadcast and photography equipment to private production companies and national broadcasters, such as the BBC, across Europe, America, and the Far East. Last year, exports hit £20.8m, and managing director Mark Forth, 49, led a buyout from former chairman Alison Baxter, 59.
Delta Group (#56, 68.06%) Marketing services provider
Some of the world’s biggest brands, including Adidas and Disney, use Delta’s print and digital technology to create eye-catching displays and marketing campaigns. Founded by Mike Phillips, 55, and Jason Auluk, 53, in 1992, it now has over 100 customers in 90 countries. Overseas revenue hit £9.5m in 2017.
Paladone (#57, 67.95%) Gift wholesaler
From Harry Potter collectables and Batman mugs to novelty bath plugs, this firm designs and supplies gifts to highstreet retailers across Europe, North America and Australasia. It has offices in America and Hong Kong and clients in 80 countries. Strong demand for its licensed and own-brand ranges helped overseas sales hit £14.2m last year, under managing director Graeme Carr, 52. In April this year, private equity firm LDC invested £13m to help growth.
Matchesfashion.com (#60, 66.94%)
Luxury fashion retailer Husband and wife team Tom and Ruth Chapman, 55 and 56 respectively, began with a single boutique in Wimbledon, southwest London, in 1987. They now sell more than 450 luxury fashion brands online and in six London stores. Its website, which draws 3m visits a month, delivers to 176 countries, helping exports hit £227.8m in 2018. Last year, private equity firm Apax Partners bought a majority stake, valuing the group — led by chief executive Ulric Jerome, 40 — at a reported £800m.
END. (#62, 66.24%)
Online menswear retailer Founded in 2005 by university friends John Parker, 36, and Christiaan Ashworth, 35, END. has grown from a shop in Newcastle to a global online retailer trading in 10 currencies. It ships up to 6,000 products a day worldwide, from menswear brands such as Comme des Garçons and Barbour, and had exports of £45.8m in 2017. The firm is backed by private equity firm Index Ventures, which bought a minority stake for an undisclosed sum in 2014.
CloserStill (#70, 58.83%) Exhibition organiser
This London firm was founded in 2008 and produces trade shows for the technology, medical and healthcare sectors. Led by chairman Phil Soar, 70, its 27 annual events include Cloud Expo Asia and New York Vet. In 2015, private equity firm Inflexion bought a minority stake for an undisclosed sum, helping fund the acquisition of French events organiser iLearning Forum and Online Educa Berlin last year. International sales hit £13.9m in 2017.
Capital Hair and Beauty (#73, 58.22%) Hair products wholesaler
Founded by Michael Vans Agnew in 1954 as a scissor-sharpening company, this family firm is now run by his sons, Peter, 57, and Hamish, 60. The Brighton business sells hair and beauty products to trade buyers across its 50 stores and online. In 2016, it acquired Essential Salon Supplies in Ireland, boosting international sales to £2.3m. Last year, it bought M&S Hair & Beauty Supplies’ eight British superstores.
Aurum (#77, 56.74%) Jewellery retailer
This Leicester jewellery group says it is one of the world’s largest distributors of luxury watches. It owns Goldsmiths, Mappin & Webb, Watches of Switzerland and Watch Shop in the UK, and is expanding across America with the backing of private equity firm Apollo. Last year, it bought US chain Mayors Jewelers for $105m (£78m). It is also opening Watches of Switzerland outlets in the US, including a flagship store in Hudson Yards, New York. Overseas sales hit £39.8m in 2017, under chief executive Brian Duffy, 63.
Freuds (#79, 55.86%) Public relations agency
Chairman Matthew Freud, 54, sold a majority stake in this public relations firm to Publicis Groupe in 2005, valuing it at £56m, but bought it back in 2011 for an undisclosed sum. Its clients include Dubai’s Department of Tourism, and it has worked with Olympic gold medallist Sir Mo Farah to promote the city as a tourist destination. In 2016, it bought American PR firm Brew Media Relations, helping international sales hit £20m. Arlo Brady, 40, became chief executive last year.
AVMI (#81, 55.53%) Audiovisual systems integrator
This Surrey company supplied flipcharts and overhead projectors when it was founded in 1990. It now helps more than 800 businesses integrate hi-tech audiovisual and video collaboration systems used in meeting rooms and event spaces as well as shops and courtrooms. Offices in the US and Hong Kong boosted international sales to £3.4m in 2017. AVMI is led by chief executive Edward Cook, 51, and backed by private equity firm Alcuin Capital.
Contechs (#82, 55.51%) Design and engineering consultancy
Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and Bentley are among the clients of this company. It acquired a German engineering services firm in 2014, and the following year it announced a £3m investment to expand its facilities in Basildon, Essex, Warwick and in Germany. In 2016, it launched its second German office, helping international sales hit £12.6m. Managing director Peter Jarvis, 53, heads the business.
Bullitt (#85, 54.52%) Consumer electronics designer
This Reading company designs and makes branded consumer electronics under licence from the likes of Kodak, Caterpillar and Land Rover. Last year, it sold a majority stake to private equity firm Exponent for an undisclosed sum. As part of the deal, former Microsoft executive Pieter Knook, 59, joined as chairman to work alongside chief executive Peter Stephens, 51. Overseas sales hit £148.8m in 2017, representing 95% of total revenues.
Principle (#95, 50.38%) Brand implementation agency
Companies such as BMW, HSBC and Accenture use this Huddersfield agency to ensure their branding is consistent across global markets. Last year, the business appointed Victoria Woodings, 34, group chief executive, and also acquired Italian agency Underline for an undisclosed sum. This — together with adding another 15 offices worldwide — helped overseas sales hit £106m in 2017.
Mark Allen Group (#96, 50.37%) Publisher and events organiser
Mark Allen, 73, founded this group with two journals in 1985. It now owns more than 70 publications, runs 200 events a year and offers data management and marketing services. In 2016, it acquired a series of conferences, including the European Manufacturing Summit, from Industry Dynamics. Chief executive Ben Allen, 43, oversaw international sales of £5.8m last year.
Mint Velvet (#100, 47.33%) Womenswear retailer
Mint Velvet’s range of women’s clothing, accessories and footwear is available online and at its 38 shops in the UK and 96 concessions. It also has 12 stores in Switzerland, eight in Ireland, and three franchise outlets in Dubai. Co-founders Liz Houghton, 53, Lisa Agar-Rea, 49, Stuart Grant, 43, and Jane Rawlings, 51, set up the retailer in 2009. Investment business The Lewis Trust Group, owned by the founders of River Island, bought a stake in the company in 2015 to support its expansion, helping exports rise to £4.9m in 2017.
E-Leather (#105, 46.21%)
Eco-friendly materials developer Airlines, trains and bus seats use this Peterborough firm’s environmentallyfriendly, recycled leather upholstery material, which is lighter, stronger and more durable than traditional leather. Led by president Chris McBean, 59, ELeather sells to more than 40 countries, and exports hit £26.4m in 2017. In February, private equity firms ETF Partners and Hermes GPE invested £70m to fund a new factory.
Total Media (#107, 45.99%) Media agency
This company says it delivers effective media strategies through understanding people’s behaviour using tools from ethnography and neuroscience to data analytics and behavioural economics. In 2017, it launched a technology and innovation hub in Estonia and international sales hit £41.5m under chief executive Guy Sellers, 61. This year, it set up a joint venture with Germany’s Mediaplus and was appointed as media agency for collaboration tool Slack.
The7stars (#108, 45.73%) Media agency
Founded in 2005 by Jenny Biggam, 51, this firm takes its name from a London pub. It plans and buys advertising across media channels in Europe and America for clients including gaming firm Supercell, responsible for mobile phone games such as Clash of Clans. It is also a member of a network of media buyers that shares work across Europe. Overseas sales hit £59.6m in 2017.
Clarion Events (#110, 45.44%) Events organiser
This company organises more than 240 conferences and exhibitions around the world. In 2017, private equity firm Blackstone acquired the group from Providence Equity Partners in a £600m deal and has backed the latest two acquisitions — Hong Kong’s Global Sources for an undisclosed sum, and the PennWell Corporation in Oklahoma for £222m, both this year. Clarion has 15 offices worldwide and had international turnover of £53.1m in 2017 under chairman Simon Kimble, 54.
Aardman (#114, 44.44%) Animated film producer
This Bristol animation studio, famous for hits such as Wallace & Gromit, was founded in 1976 by Peter Lord and David Sproxton, both 64. Overseas sales are three quarters of revenue. Licensing deals have led to a Shaun the Sheep café and theme park in China and its own channel in Indonesia. The acquisition of US animation firm Nathan Love for an undisclosed sum in 2015 also boosted international sales to £19.7m in 2016.
Jones Knowles Ritchie (#116, 43.53%) Brand design agency
This design agency temporarily changed the name of Budweiser beer to America when it looked to re-establish the brand in 2016. JKR specialises in brand identity, packaging and campaigns for customers such as Unilever and Mars. It was set up in 1990 by its eponymous founders Joe Jones, Andrew Knowles, 60, and Ian Ritchie, 58, and now has offices in New York, London, Singapore and Shanghai. In 2016 overseas sales hit £13.7m under chief executive Guy Lambert, 52.
The Little Group (#124, 39.98%) Media wholesaler
Chairman Jonathan Little, 53, heads this family-owned holding company of Gardners Books, which says it is Britain’s largest independent wholesaler of books, music and DVDs. International sales, which reached £141m in 2017, have been aided by its American business, based in Florida. This year, it is doubling the capacity of its Eastbourne warehouse to stock 8m products.
Winning Moves (#128, 38.81%) Games maker
With bestsellers that include Game of Thrones Monopoly and Pass the Pigs, this London company has the licensing rights to develop and supply special editions of Hasbro games. It also owns the worldwide rights to the Top Trumps card game. It has offices across Europe, Australia and the US, and saw overseas sales reach £20.9m last year under chief executive Tom Liddell, 45.
Osprey Europe (#136, 37.50%) Backpack distributor
Managing director Rob Wylie, 48, set up this business in 2003 with his own savings to sell the high-end backpacks designed by US brand Osprey Packs in Europe. The company, which is based in Poole, Dorset, helps to design Osprey’s products and exports them to large chains and independent stores, including German outdoor retailer Globetrotter. It also sells through its website, relaunched last year, helping international sales hit £26.7m in 2017.
Usborne Publishing (#137, 37.33%) Children’s book publisher
Founded by chairman Peter Usborne, 80, in 1973, Usborne specialises in children’s literature and has 2,500 titles for audiences ranging from babies to young adults. Its books include the “That’s not my . . .” and Farmyard Tales series and have been translated into more than 100 languages. In 2017, the business generated exports of £55.5m and launched an imprint to publish Usborne titles in China.
Childrensalon (#139, 36.79%) Childrenswear retailer
Started in 1952 by Sybil Harriman with a shop in Tunbridge Wells, Childrensalon is now a global online retailer, stocking 280 brands of childrenswear such as Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana. A surge in sales of traditional styles, after the births of Prince George and Princess Charlotte, helped exports hit £67.5m last year. The company is headed by the founder’s daughter, Michele HarrimanSmith,
Ustwo (#144, 35.02%) Digital design studio
Founded in 2004 by Matt Miller, 39 and John Sinclair, 40, this London company builds mobile and desktop applications for companies such as Google, Ford and Nike. It also produces digital games, including Monument Valley, and invests in its staff’s projects, such as music ticketing app Dice. With studios in New York, Sydney and Malmö, Sweden, international sales hit £15.5m in 2016. New chief executive Carsten Wierwille is tasked with driving further growth.
White Stuff (#146, 34.82%) Fashion retailer
Selling casual clothes and accessories through 182 stores and concessions in Britain and Europe, as well as online and wholesale, White Stuff has come a long way since Sean Thomas and George Treves, both 54, began selling T-shirts in Val d’Isère in 1985. New store openings in Germany, where it has 19 outlets, helped international sales reach £9m in 2017. Jo Jenkins, former M&S clothing and beauty director, took over as chief executive this spring.
Titan Entertainment (#151, 34.10%) Publisher
Nick Landau, 64, and Vivian Cheung, 61, opened their first bookshop in the 1970s selling cult literature and science fiction. Titan Entertainment now comprises four divisions: the Forbidden Planet bookshop chain, Titan Books, Titan Comics and Titan Merchandise. Distributors in the US, Ireland and Australia, and partnerships with global brands such as Marvel, helped international sales hit £16.5m in 2016.
Avalon (#154, 33.68%) Entertainment producer and manager
Founded in 1988 by Jonathan Thoday, 57, and Richard Allen-Turner, 52, Avalon manages talent such as Daniel Radcliffe and Russell Howard, promotes live comedy, and produces TV shows. Its programmes include Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, hit comedy Catastrophe and entertainment shows Taskmaster and The Button. With offices in New York and Los Angeles, it works with global broadcasters and streaming services. International sales increased to £68.2m in 2017.
Rapha (#155, 33.47%) Cycling clothing maker
Founded in 2004 by Simon Mottram, 52, Rapha’s premium cycling clothing and accessories have been worn by the likes of Sir Bradley Wiggins. Cycling enthusiasts can buy its products online or at one of its 22 “clubhouse” stores, in locations from Osaka to Copenhagen and Chicago. Its other offerings include a global cycling club, cycling holidays and a skincare range. International sales hit £48.1m in 2017. US private equity firm RCZ Investments bought the company for £200m last August.
Reiss (#157, 32.71%) Fashion retailer
This fashion retailer was valued at £230m in 2016 when founder David Reiss, 75, sold a majority stake to private equity firm Warburg Pincus. Reiss has used the investment to continue its international expansion, opening outlets in the US, Canada, Australia and, most recently, South Korea. The brand’s popularity soared after the Duchess of Cambridge wore a Reiss dress for her engagement in 2011, and the company now has 181 stores in 18 countries. Last year, overseas sales hit £42.1m and Christos Angelides, 55, was appointed chief executive.
Gravity Media (#160, 32.42%) Broadcast services provider
Gravity Media provides complex live broadcast facilities and production services through its Gearhouse Broadcast, Hyperactive Broadcast and Input Media brands. Located in Britain, Australia, the US, France, Germany and Qatar, its projects include the French Open tennis and Formula One racing. Founded in 2000 following a management buyout from Gearhouse, it has expanded through acquisitions, buying Hyperactive in 2015, Input in 2017, and Genesis Broadcast Services this year. Headed by John Newton, 54, and backed by private equity firm TowerBrook, the business generated international sales of £54.2m in 2016.
George Pragnell (#161, 32.08%) Fine jewellery retailer
Founded in 1954 by George Pragnell, this family firm is now run by his grandson, managing director Charlie Pragnell, 39. Its Stratford-uponAvon and Mayfair showrooms house a diverse collection of new and antique jewellery and rare Swiss timepieces, and the business has a wide range of wealthy customers, from international entrepreneurs to European royalty. Overseas sales reached £18.6m last year.
Supremia (#162, 31.98%) Marketing services provider
Founded in 1981 by chairman Sedat Kahya, 75, this firm creates promotional gifts and packaging for multinational companies. Sourcing products in China, it works in 32 countries across five continents for companies that include Unilever, Diageo and Coty. Large contracts in the North American drinks industry helped international turnover reach £49.3m in 2017, under managing director Richard Thomson, 52.
HH Global (#168, 31.04%) Marketing services provider
This Surrey-based company trades in 43 countries and counts the likes of Google and Bayer as customers. In 2016, it opened eight offices in Latin America to support a contract with Unilever, helping overseas sales hit £205.9m in 2017. Chief executive Robert MacMillan, 46, oversaw the acquisition of a Dutch print management company in November last year.
Beautybay.com (#170, 30.84%) Online cosmetics retailer
Customers in 101 countries can buy from this Manchester etailer’s range of more than 10,000 make-up, skincare and haircare items from cult beauty brands, such as Anastasia Beverley Hills, Jeffree Star Cosmetics and The Ordinary. Founded in 1999 by brothers David, 36, and Arron Gabbie, 39, it stocks hard-to-find products and has 2m followers on social media. In 2016, it moved to a 60,000 sq ft warehouse in Manchester to cope with increased demand, and exports doubled to £17m.
NPW (#182, 28.44%) Gift maker
NPW designs and sources giftware, stationery and beauty products, ranging from gold-dust face masks to pocket microscopes. Exports reached £23m in 2018, mainly to America, where it supplies retailers such as Target and Walgreens. Chief executive Tim Wright, 49, heads the business.
Result Clothing (#184, 28.25%) Clothing wholesaler
Waterproof jackets, trousers and highvis vests are some of the items made by this company. It supplies corporate clothing and customises products with logos and branding. Founded in 1994 by David Sanders-Smith, 70, the firm, based in Colchester, Essex, sells to 39 distributors across Europe. Exports hit £14.6m in 2017.
Jojo Maman Bébé (#185, 28.19%) Maternity and babywear retailer
Managing director Laura Tenison, 51, set up this maternity and babywear brand in 1993 with £50,000 from the sale of her first business. It now runs 88 stores in the UK and Ireland. The firm, based in Newport, southeast Wales, also exports to trade customers in 60 countries. It has been investing in its ecommerce sites and opened its first three shops in the US this spring. International sales hit £6m in 2017.
Apricot (#190, 27.38%) Fashion retailer
Founded in 2007 by Philip Chaimo, 57, and Sophia Ciampa, 38, Apricot sells affordable women’s fashion ranging from wardrobe staples to limited edition and trend-led pieces. The London firm has 12 of its own stores and a further 400 concessions in department stores across the UK and Ireland. It also has 800 concessions and stockists in mainland Europe, America and Canada. International sales rose to £12.2m in 2017.
The Brand Machine Group (#194, 26.60%) Branded childrenswear designer
Some of the biggest names in European retailing — including Zalando and De Bijenkorf — buy designer childrenswear from this Hertfordshire company. Founded in 1990 as the Flyers Group by chief executive Boo Jalil, 52, The Brand Machine Group now designs and distributes children’s clothing under licence from brands such as the US Polo Association and Converse. Four showrooms in Europe, its largest international market, helped overseas sales to reach £7.5m in 2017.
World of Books (#197, 26.34%) Books and media reseller
Every year this online retailer sells more than 9m used books, CDs, DVDs and games to consumers in more than 190 countries. It trades via its own websites and through Amazon and eBay. In 2016, chief executive Stephen Boobyer, 55, led a buyout backed by private equity firm Bridges Fund Management. Wholesaling books to China helped exports at the West Sussex firm to hit £18.7m in 2017.
Ptarmigan Media (#198, 26.13%) Financial media agency
Financial institutions Nomura and JP Morgan are among this London firm’s blue-chip customers. Named after the rare Ptarmigan bird, the business was founded in 1993 by David Wiggin, 58, and specialises in media planning and buying for the financial sector. Growth in Asia and new offices in Australia and Taiwan boosted overseas sales to £44.6m in 2017.
Whitemeadow Furniture (#199, 25.71%) Furniture manufacturer
This upholstery specialist has been designing and making handcrafted sofas, chairs and beds since 1994, and now has six sites on the outskirts of Nottingham. It supplies British and Irish retailers, such as Fenwicks and Sofa Workshop. Under managing director Ian Oscroft, 58, international sales reached £2.3m in 2016. Whitemeadow has partnered with Sir Terence Conran to produce a 1960s inspired furniture collection.