Last year, The 25th annual Growing Business Awards honoured the UK’s most outstanding entrepreneurs and high-growth businesses and rewarded 27 of the fastest-growing SMEs.
Jo Caulfield, stand-up comedian, host, and comedy writer, delivered a welcome address, presented the finalists and announced the winners.
Innovator of the year
The business demonstrated clear goals and vision with a very innovative product, collaborating with a good customer base. Peak shows good exploitation of its market and strong growth in revenue. It has reacted well to the challenges of the Covid 19 pandemic and adapted to some difficult conditions. The business is focused on a defined market and segment and shows a great understanding of innovation and the importance of the team.
The ECI Partners B2B Business of the Year
Kubrick has a clear vision for their business and understands how to capitalise on the market opportunity. They are differentiated through their focus on most in-demand skill areas and have excellent retention and feedback from blue-chip clients. They have a track record of exceptional growth, gaining significant scale just four years after inception, and have an ambitious and driven management team. They also demonstrate a commitment to diversity and a focus on the development of their people.
Online Business of the Year
Howsy is carving out a great niche in its market. The founder seems to really deeply understand the industry he is operating in and the challenges and problems that need to be solved, while at the same time empathizing with both landlords and tenants and understanding their specific needs. He is using digital channels very effectively and is thinking clearly about growth and ideas that he can incorporate into the business to further enhance the customer experience.
The Santander Technology Business of the Year
The GP Service
The GP Service is the first platform in the UK to allow patients to access a doctor in over 1600 pharmacies; patients are able to see a doctor within 10 minutes and allow the pharmacy to dispense the prescription via an electronic private prescription portal. The GP Service is the only private company to date to be able to access the patient’s NHS medical records, allowing doctors to assess this information during the consultation. The platform is highly scalable and growing strongly. It is bringing innovation and choice to a sector which will be valued by many users.
The ECI Partners Consumer Business of the Year
The judges were particularly impressed by the innovative way the business is disrupting a traditional sector with its range of consumer-focused end of life services. Its success to date has clearly been underpinned by a talented team and cutting-edge technology, all focused on changing the way the world deals with death. Alongside providing a range of consumer-focused services, the business has achieved remarkable success in boosting legacy donations.
Creative Industries Business of the Year
The judges were particularly impressed by the team’s vision for the business and the future, and their singular focus on telling the right story, to the right audience at the right time on the right device. The business is ambitious for their platform solutions and have shown a creative approach to locking in new value for their clients with authenticity and integrity.
Young Company of the Year
Together with clear, strong leadership and a very impressive business model, Corndel was a stand out winner for the award this year. Not only have they been growing incredibly rapidly year-on-year to date, but the company is incredibly well positioned for the current global situation. The business is highly profitable and the judges had no doubt that the business would achieve everything it has set out for the future with a very inspiring team.
Customer Experience and Loyalty Award
Company Shop Group
Balancing the social responsibility with commercial success is tricky but The Company Shop seem to be getting it just right. Their growth and performance are very impressive and their impact on society is very high with the business addressing issues such as food waste and high value consumables at affordable prices for low income households. In these uncertain economic times this is an important service. The customer experience and loyalty of the business is evident with both their client partners in the supply chain and their end user consumer, both of whom have different requirements and demands.
Family-Owned Business of the Year
The trio of brothers leading this business showed energy, innovation and vision. Sneakers have gone from being a utility purchase to being a hot trending, fast selling and highly fashion-conscious product and the brothers have leveraged this knowledge, segmented their market and created products to suit. Their fast-global growth, accompanying accolades, incredible social engagement, not to mention their licence agreements with global sneaker brand, Adidas, means that they are more than worthy winners of this award.
Market Disruptor of the Year
Farewill are disrupting a market that is currently completely under-served and they are doing it with style and flair and a deep understanding of their customers needs. They have managed to blend great technology with the human touch which is something that is definitely needed in their industry. This is a very dynamic, innovative company that offers a unique twist on the services it offers at a very cost effective price while enhancing the customer experience.
Micro Business of the Year
NLT Electrical Limited
The NLT team are engaged with their customers in a very focused and driven way to drive growth. They have a clear understanding of their customer type and have built a trusting relationship. The NLT team has produced an excellent growth plan with a big percentage of turnover going back into learning and development for the staff and building a strong employee base. The founder Nathan continues to drive his own learning by undertaking courses and then ensuring staff are developed. The company has obtained accreditation in areas such as ISO to assist with bigger tenders and contracts in the future.
Growing Business of the Year: Smaller Company (Turnover up to £10m)
This is a good business idea which has been carried out with excellent execution. bOnline has a credible growth strategy and its products clearly meets the needs of their customers. The business is extremely scalable and has excellent use of automation while providing its clients with comprehensive support. It is headed up by a very impressive individual in terms of leadership and delegation, who has a clear vision for the business that is believable.
The Santander Growing Business of the Year: Smaller Company (Turnover £10m-£25m)
The founder Brie was impressive and demonstrated a strong ambitious company vision. The business has a compelling USP - tights that actually fit - and has considered potential competitor activity. The brand is disruptive and exciting and customers feature in the advertising, making it real and talked about. The business demonstrated strong profitable growth, and had anticipated where costs would hinder profitability in the future so has set up its own distribution depot, reducing cost significantly. A strong senior management team is in place for growth and commitment to outstanding customer service is at the heart of the business.
Growing Business of the Year: Mid-sized Company (Turnover £25m-£45m)
The business demonstrated a strong compelling vision, excellent growth and strong quantifiable growth ambitions moving forward. It has carved out a strong USP in the market with a very strong value add from their product. MPB has shown efficient deployment of capital for growth and can demonstrate proven customer engagement with strong customer ratings.
Growing Business of the Year: Mid-sized Company (Turnover £45m-£60m)
Company Shop Group
Company Shop Group has clearly demonstrated a strong purpose, and market impact. The business has spotted a gap in the market and has scaled up at impressive speed. They have a strong purpose and fantastic social impact. There are lots of positives to their story. It is a great business and it will be exciting to see where it is heading and what it does next.
Growing Business of the Year: Larger Company (Turnover £60m+)
The significant financial achievements for this company speaks for itself, and what came across very clearly was an organisation driven by an environment of autonomy with a burning desire and passion to create a world class business for its employees, customers and stakeholders. Laura Benton and her colleagues live and breathe this business night and day and despite being hugely successful one can only admire their humility and down to earth approach.
The Bridges Positive Impact Award
WhiteHat is a hugely impressive company with a very important mission to build a high-quality alternative to university education through apprenticeships. It is democratising access to good careers by recognising that potential and talent are not simply about academic achievement. In so doing it is helping employers address vital skills shortages whilst addressing inequalities in pay and opportunity. WhiteHat is not only asking profoundly important questions about our education system but also providing credible and important answers. It has the potential for significant social and economic impact – as well as to be an outstanding business.
Employer of the Year
Croud impressed in all areas and it’s clear they are very in touch with how their employees feel and what they need to be successful. They were open and aware about areas requiring improvement, such as needing more competitive employee benefits, and presented a clear plan on how they are working to implement changes. Croud were also impressive in relation to their diversity and inclusion initiatives, and have a clear plan on how they can improve. Their growth as an agency is impressive, as is their resilience and how well they have weathered the storm of 2020 to date.
Entrepreneur of the Year
Brie Read, Snag Tights
Brie was a real firework, full of facts and figures really knew her market and audience. She had great enthusiasm for the business and its future and knows exactly where she wants to take the business too. She is a true entrepreneur who saw a problem and had the steely determination to fix it. Brie’s determination and drive shone through in both the written entry but even more so in her interview.
Aquis Stock Exchange (AQSE) is one of only two regulated equity exchanges in the United Kingdom, focused on raising capital for new-economy growth companies by offering them a fast and cost-efficient pathway to IPO.
The AQSE Growth Market is divided into two segments 'Access' and 'Apex', with different levels of admission criteria. The Access market focuses on earlier stage growth companies, while Apex is the intended market for larger, more established businesses. AQSE has put a number of measures in place to reduce spreads, boost liquidity and ensure that retail investors are treated equally to institutions.
Bridges Fund Management is a specialist fund manager dedicated to sustainable and impact investing, with offices in London and New York. The Bridges Sustainable Growth Funds invest in growth businesses that are helping to tackle some of our biggest social and environmental challenges, supporting these companies to accelerate their commercial performance and deliver measurable positive impact. Bridges was founded in 2002 and has since raised over £1bn to invest in impactful SMEs, property and social sector organisations.
As businesses strive to develop and grow in this rapidly changing world, they need the support of people they can trust. At Santander, we’re committed to building close and enduring relationships with each of our business customers, so that we understand how we can help you achieve your business ambitions. As well as supporting your business locally through a network of Corporate Business Centres and specialists in the UK, we have a strong international presence thanks to our extensive global network in major markets. So, whether the next step is to invest in a new growth area, consider an acquisition or break into an overseas market, we can help you get ahead.