The first ever list of the fifty fastest growing firms in the South of England has been released today by the UK Fast Growth 50 Index.

From Cornwall to Kent and from Oxford to Southampton, the South of England provides a conducive environment for businesses to flourish, offering a combination of economic strength, innovation, talent, and access to markets that make it an attractive destination for business growth and development.

The inaugural Fast Growth 50 list for the South of England focuses on fifty dynamic firms that collectively generated £1.6 billion in turnover in 2022, employing nearly 6,300 individuals. More importantly, these companies grew their turnover by £977 million between 2020 and 2022, achieving an average growth rate of 157 percent.

These firms played a crucial role in job creation as the South of England economy rebounded from the Covid pandemic, adding 3,153 new jobs over the same period, equivalent to a doubling of the workforce. Thirteen firms achieved turnovers exceeding £20 million, with Universal Partners leading with £1.3 billion in sales in 2022. In terms of job creation, the Cera Group created 4,000 new jobs in two years.

Contrary to the assumption that rapid growth is due to new businesses, the data for the Fast Growth 50 reveals a different story. The average age of a fast-growing firm in the South of England is fourteen years, with only three newcomers aged five years or less. This challenges the notion that substantial growth is confined to the early stages of a company’s existence. Trust Payments, with 25 years of establishment in 2023, stands as the oldest fast-growth firm on this year’s list.

In terms of sectors, financial services led with ten firms, followed by consumer services with eight and consumer products with seven. Notably, only five technology and digital firms made the list, suggesting that rapid growth is not limited only to knowledge-based sectors.

The fastest growing firm in the South of England is  Oxford Summer Courses, increasing its turnover by 2,395 percent between 2020 and 2022. Founded in 2010 by Harry Hortyn and Robert Phipps, Oxford Summer Courses has become a global player in the short course education sector, blending top-tier teaching from Oxford academics with a rich cultural experience.

“The UK Fast Growth 50 Index demonstrates that a small number of fast growth firms make a substantial contribution to the UK’s economic landscape, providing real examples of how innovation, enterprise and sheer hard work can make a real difference in all sectors from construction to financial services to technology.

Their incredible growth during difficult times shows that through generating wealth and jobs in their local communities, entrepreneurship is the cornerstone of regional and national prosperity. Most important of all, their success stories demonstrate the impact of ambition and adaptability, providing a blueprint for sustainable growth that will hopefully inspire others to follow a similar journey.”

Professor Dylan Jones-Evans OBE, Founder Fast Growth 50

Therefore, the 2023 Fast Growth 50 list for the South of England underscores the diversity and dynamism of fast-growing businesses in the region.

These firms not only contribute substantially to the local economy but also exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit characterising the South of England. Their stories serve as a source of inspiration, showcasing the remarkable achievements made possible through innovation, dedication, and resilience in this thriving region.

This year’s Fast Growth 50 list is in partnership with UBS, the world’s leading and truly global wealth manager.

“Business owners and entrepreneurs are the engine of our economy, and UBS has a long history advising and connecting them on each stage of their wealth journey, helping them to unlock their potential. Led by entrepreneurial spirit and often solving some of the UK’s biggest issues, the level of talent and innovation uncovered through this year’s list shows that more needs to be done to support small businesses to strengthen local economies and give back to the local community. As the lead sponsor of this year’s Fast Growth 50, UBS is looking forward to following and supporting these businesses as they go from strength to strength.”

Mark Goddard, Head of UK Regions at UBS Global Wealth Management

The South of England Fast Growth 50 2023 winners

  • Fastest growing firm in South of England
  • Oxford Summer Courses
  • Fastest growing business to business services firm
  • Identity Global
  • Fastest growing construction and building services firm
  • Drakemoor
  • Fastest growing consumer products firm
  • Scriveiner
  • Fastest growing consumer services firm
  • Oxford Summer Courses
  • Fastest growing digital firm
  • Safetonet
  • Fastest growing fashion and apparel firm
  • Passenger Clothing
  • Fastest growing manufacturing and engineering firm
  • Gilcrest Manufacturing
  • Fastest growing professional services firm
  • Health Partners
  • Fastest growing retail services firm
  • Liga
  • Fastest growing technology firm
  • Alloyed