Top 10 Recession Busting Companies

Despite the economic gloom, many small businesses are posting stellar profits. Read our selection of the top 10 fast growing UK companies from SmallBusiness.co.uk.

Research by SmallBusiness.co.uk has identified the top fifty fastest growing companies in the UK. With combined sales of over £1 billion and profits just shy of £150 million, the research shows that many companies operating in the healthcare, IT and business services sectors are performing strongly. Here are a selection of ten of the smaller companies on that list.

1. Pimlico Plumbers
Turnover: £14.7m (+10%)
Pre-tax profits: £750,000 (+81%)
Sector: Support services
Based: London

Steered by Charlie Mullins, this family business keeps on growing. ‘The jobs are smaller at the moment,’ he says. ‘Rather than buy a new boiler, customers will have it repaired four times.’ Mullins says that he ‘doesn’t like banks’ and this antipathy appears to be working in his favour: ‘One of the things to get through a recession is to not owe anyone anything. We don’t even have an overdraft. I’ve never seen my bank manager and I never will.’

2. The Rare Art Group
Turnover: £18m (+35%)
Pre-tax profits: £1.3m (+103%)
Sector: Media Based: London

‘Nothing is recession-proof, but when you’ve got something of a limited supply and high quality, there’s always going to be a demand,’ says Lewis Smith of antique dealer The Rare Art Group. Smith says antiques appeal to buyers in all economic conditions as they represent assets ‘not in the banker’s control’. The company has remained debt-free, he adds.

3. Quadrille Publishing
Turnover: £11.5m (+42%)
Pre-tax profits: £1.0m (+63%)
Sector: Media Based: London

Alison Cathie, managing director, says the company’s performance is down to its vibrant portfolio of work, which has proved popular both the UK and US markets. ‘In order to weather the recession, we have been even more rigorous in the selection of the publishing projects we have taken on, while still taking some calculated risks,’ adds Cathie

4. Blackout
Turnover: £4.1m (+17%)
Pre-tax profits: £675,000 (+67%)
Sector: Media
Based: London

Starting from scratch from his kitchen table in 1990, Steve Tuck has built a business that now handles events such as the G20 summit and the Film4 screenings at Somerset House in London. It’s all about drapes – ‘our job is to get anything to hang in the air’, says Tuck – and though growth has slowed, the company is ‘cutting its cloth to fit’ in the recession.

5. Liberty Wines
Turnover: £22.3m (+24%)
Pre-tax profits: £1.1m (+35%)
Sector: Consumer
Based: London

Wholesaler Liberty Wines supplies independent shops and restaurants and its wines rarely retail for less than £6 a bottle. Chief operating officer Gary Wyatt says the company does no above-the-line marketing but is adept at winning industry awards as well as coverage in the trade press.

6. Zytronic
Turnover: £14.7m (+30%)
Pre-tax profits: £1.7m (+155%)
Sector: Electronics
Based: Tyne & Wear

The global demand for Zytronic’s durable touch sensors and optical filters, used everywhere from jukeboxes to shop windows, shows no sign of letting up.

7. Driver
Turnover: £18.2m (+44%)
Pre-tax profits: £2.0m (+90%)
Sector: Support Services
Based: Lancashire

CEO Steve Driver flags up healthy growth in the UK, where London and the South led growth for this dispute resolution specialist, as well as in the Middle East.

8. Media Initiatives Group
Turnover: £22.9m (+21%)
Pre-tax profits: £2.1m (+23%)
Sector: Media
Based: London

Video is a major source of growth for advertising agency Media Initiatives Group, according to CEO Alan Greaney, who says convergence is becoming a business reality.

9. Benoy
Turnover: £35.9m (+25%)
Pre-tax profits: £4.4m (+538%)
Sector: Support services
Based: London

Designer of the Bullring development in Birmingham (left) and London’s Westfield centre, Benoy has completed projects in the Middle East and China.

10. IS Pharma
Turnover: £12.2m (+73%)
Pre-tax profits: £2.0m (+70%)
Sector: Health
Based: Cheshire

Nurtured by informed CEO Tim Wright, IS Pharma acquires and commercialises late-stage drugs and devices focused on critical care, oncology and neurology.

Click here to read the full 50 Rising Stars of 2009.

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