16 Midlands firms win places in COVID-19 edition of Britain's fastest growing private companies league table

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Published this weekend, the 24th annual Sunday Times Virgin Atlantic Fast Track 100 league table ranks Britain’s private companies using the fastest-growing sales.

Sixteen companies headquartered in the Midlands (compared to 9 last year) have won places within the table, including ten new entrants.

Their sales have become by an average of 70% a year over 3 years to a total of £723m, each one is profitable, and together they employ more than 5,100 people. The figures largely relate to financial periods before Covid-19 struck.

The region’s top-ranked company is a new entrant, security fencing supplier Safe Fence (No 4), which is based in West Bromwich, and has grown sales by an average of 182% a year to £8.9m around to April. It supplied fencing to NHS Nightingale hospitals and testing centres early in the year, and serves 20,000 customers including Network Rail. It had been founded by former investment banker George Melhuish in 2021, as he was just 23.

Another new entrant is Solihull-based online lingerie retailer Lounge Underwear (No 5). It was also launched in 2021 by co-founders Daniel and Melanie Marsden, the latter one of 28 female founders on this year’s league table. Its sales rose 162% annually to £13.8m in the year to March, also it shares the Blythe Valley Business Park because the location for its HQ with fitness clothing brand Gymshark (No 23), valued at more than £1bn in August when US private equity finance firm General Atlantic acquired a 21% stake.

The companies in the Midlands appear with businesses from around Britain, including BrewDog, the brewers, worth more than £1bn, and beauty products manufacturer Tropic Skincare. Past star alumni include chip designer ARM, which featured in 1997 with sales of £16.7m and it is in the process of being bought by American technology giant Nvidia for £31bn, and drinks maker Fever-Tree, which floated in 2021 at £154m and it is now worth £2.9bn.

The Steps for success 100 is sponsored by Virgin Atlantic, BDO, DHL Express and N+1 Singer, and is compiled by Fast Track, the Oxford-based research as well as networking events firm. Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Group, that has supported Fast Track 100 for those 24 years, said: “When we're living in extremely uncertain and challenging times, there is one thing I am certain of: entrepreneurs would be the dreamers, the doers, and the innovators that have the power to have a positive effect on society. There are so many inspiring examples of this on the Fast Track 100 league table showing this is just as true, if not more so, in 2021 because it ever has been.”

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