Lead Forensics


Fastest growing businesses in Surrey, Sussex and Kent revealed

1 Jul 2019

New research published today by accountancy and business advisory firm, BDO LLP, reveals the fastest growing businesses in Surrey, Sussex and Kent contributed in excess of £3.7bn worth of sales and more than 18,000 jobs to the UK economy last year.

BDO’s Best in Business Top 100 league table and Profit Growth report, compiled in association with leading mid-market private equity firm LDC, ranks companies in the Southern Home Counties with the fastest growth in profits over the last three years.

Profits at the Top 100 companies, which includes popular restaurant chain Giggling Squid, car insurer Markerstudy, award winning developer Thakeham Homes and lone worker protection provider Send for Help, grew by a staggering 76% on average each year over the last three years, bringing total profits to £623m. Collectively the Top 100 companies employ over 18,000 staff and created an additional 1,598 jobs in the past twelve months alone.

These ambitious, high performing companies represent the rich diversity of business in Surrey, Sussex and Kent; from well-established family-owned companies in traditional industry sectors, such as retail, manufacturing and construction, to market disruptors in creative media technologies. The majority (68%) operate in services, construction, and technology and media, and 62% are either family owned or owned by the original founders.

Across the region the geographical distribution of the top businesses is fairly even with 35 in Sussex, 33 in Surrey and 32 in Kent. Growth in profits is also similar in Kent and Surrey where companies achieved a 119% and 116% rise over the last twelve months compared to 73% in Sussex.

Taking the top spot within the Top 100 league table is Guildford-based Darton Commodities, specialists in the finance and distribution of cobalt metal, with an impressive compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 988% over the last three years. Founded in 2000, the business is privately owned and a newcomer to the Top 100 league table.

Surrey’s top performers

Surrey’s top performing businesses reported an impressive combined growth of 116% in profits on revenues of £1.14bn, employing 7,592 people over the last twelve months. Companies in this county dominate the top of the league table with seven of the top ten located in the area; three of which have head offices in Guildford.

Sussex’s top performers

The 35 top performing businesses in Sussex achieved a combined profit growth of a 73% in profits on sales of £1.3m, employing 5,090 people in the last twelve months. Almost half of these companies have previously been identified in BDO’s Best in Business research. Leading the way in generating the fastest growing profits in Sussex is Crawley-based P J Brown Construction with a CAGR of 132%, placing them in 6th position in the Top 100 league table.

Kent’s top performers

Growth in Kent was most significant over the same period with 32 companies generating a staggering 119% in profits on sales of £1.3bn, employing 5,828 people. Not surprisingly their directors were the best rewarded financially with 20% taking home over £1m last year according to accounts filed by April 2019. The highest placed company in the Top 100 league table is Dartford-based Cooper Estates who took 4th position with a CAGR of 280%.

Catherine Jones, Best in Business partner for BDO’s Gatwick and Guildford offices, commented: “We have a tremendous base of ambitious and entrepreneurially-spirited companies to be proud of locally. These companies exemplify everything that is best about business and are amongst the top performing in the country. The owners and directors are truly reaching new heights in their strong financial management and visionary leadership in these uncertain times.

“Since we launched our Best in Business research three years ago we have had the pleasure of meeting some of the most dynamic businesses in the region, and this year has been no exception. We will continue to champion their growth to encourage policy makers to do more to support these powerhouses that make such a significant contribution to the economy.”

Jonathan Caswell, Origination Director at LDC in the South, said: “The fast growth of businesses across Surrey, Sussex and Kent continues to demonstrate the confidence and resilience of firms in the region. The common thread in all these firms is a highly ambitious management team who are committed to growing their businesses and identifying new potential growth opportunities.

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We continue to pay close attention to ambitious management teams across the region and are ready to support with our capital and expertise to further amplify their growth.”
Jonathan Caswell, Origination Director
LDC in the South