London on top in race for growth

Michael Bow
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LONDON’S grip on the British economy is continuing to grow, after a survey revealed almost one-third of the UK’s fastest growing companies are based in the capital.

London hotspot for 100 fastest-growing UK firms Privately owned firms across London make up 30 per cent of the UK’s 100 fastest growing companies, according to research released today – with five of the top 10 based in the capital.

Some 49 per cent of the UK’s fastest growing firms are now based in London and the south east, up from 43 per cent last year.

“This is a win-win-win, as investment in London drives jobs and growth not just in our city but across the country as well as strengthening our position in an intensely competitive global market,” London mayor Boris Johnson told City A.M.

“London’s attractiveness as a crucible of entrepreneurism is unrivalled,” he added.

Chiswick-based solar panel distributor Altenergy is top of the pile in London and the second fastest growing company in the whole of the UK. It delivered a four-year annual compound growth rate of 137 per cent and £45.9m in turnover last year.

The survey, the Investec Hot 100 published by Real Business, is now in its 15th year and includes start up companies with sales exceeding £10m and operating profits over than £1m.

Sectors topping the list this time around include the IT, software and telecoms industry with 16 per cent, and financial services with 15 per cent of the share.

London-based companies in the top 10 are dominated by finance-related companies, including gold specialist Baird Investments, foreign exchange trader ActivTrades and fund manager Troy Asset Management. Media broker Miroma International is also in the group.

London chamber of commerce and industry chief executive Colin Stanbridge said: “The fact that so many of the hot 100 companies are from London is further demonstration that the city is the place to do business. Whether you are a start-up or a well-established business the environment here serves to encourage business and companies here are clearly thriving.”

A survey of the firms listed in the poll reveal an optimistic outlook on the UK economy, with 83 per cent of entrepreneurs believing the picture will improve over the next 12 months and 75 per cent intending to increase the number of full time employees.

And despite the bleak outlook for the UK high street, six retail companies have made the list, including popular London-based sushi chain Wasabi and budget shop 99p Stores, headquartered in Northampton.

“This year clearly demonstrates the strength and breadth of entrepreneurial activity and business growth from companies that will continue to be the growth engine of the UK economy for many years to come,” said Investec’s Ed Cottrell.

“London and the south east continue to be hubs for expansion and it is hugely encouraging to see growth coming from all corners of the UK.”

London’s share of the UK economy now accounts for 21.9 per cent, with active business growth of 7.2 per cent versus 0.7 per cent for the UK overall.