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Businesses Leading Britain

A new lens on growth

December 2014

Part of the UK Futures series, this report focuses on medium-sized businesses that have achieved above average growth rates.

Introducing the report

Our Businesses Leading Britain 2014 report is a core part of UK Futures. It provides insights into the UK’s 1,000 fastest-growing businesses with annual revenues between £30 million and £1 billion: specifically, who they are, where they are, and what are the ingredients of their success. These businesses make a very significant contribution to the UK economy: in 2013 their combined revenue totalled £158 billion, or 9.2 per cent of UK GDP. Collectively over the past three years, they have increased revenues by £30 billion and added 182,000 jobs to their employment headcount.

As the recovery becomes established, attention is turning to regional economic growth. Our work shows that the Businesses Leading Britain 1,000 (BLB1000) are major contributors to employment and wealth creation across the different parts of the UK. For example, employment in Wales fell by 0.4 per cent in the period 2011-2013, BLB companies in the region increased employee numbers by over 50 per cent, close to 8,000 jobs. Similarly, in the East of England the BLB1000 firms added 24,000 to their head count over this period, while the region’s overall employment figure fell by around 90,000.

Clearly, the BLB1000 are amongst the elite performers of the UK economy, and it is important to understand the reasons for their success and how this might be sustained in the future. Through a combination of qualitative and quantitative analysis, this report provides a new lens through which to understand growth. We group these high-performing companies into four clusters: Brand builders, Professionals, KITs and Webmeisters. The aim of providing an analysis through this new lens is to help business leaders and policy makers identify the factors that can unlock growth in individual businesses and across the economy as a whole.

Key findings

  • The Businesses Leading Britain 1,000 (BLB1000) are key to the UK’s economic recovery. The revenues of these businesses in 2013 totalled £158 billion, the equivalent of 9.2% of GDP. Their importance is also evident in the jobs market: between 2011 and 2013 they increased their headcount by nearly 200,000.
  • New UK hotspots. Our results show the emergence of new regional economic powerhouses, the East Midlands and the North West, as hosts to BLB companies. The Leading 50 companies in the East Midlands have the strongest revenue performance. The North West is now host to 115 of the BLB1000, second only to London in number.
  • It is time for a new lens on growth. A more tailored policy approach is needed to enhance both efficiency and effectiveness. By clustering these businesses this report provides an overview of some of the common characteristics among high-growth medium-sized businesses. 

Business leading Britain: A new lens on growth
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