Celebrating London’s financial and business community and its most successful individuals and firms
Business of the Year
Despite ongoing difficulties on the UK high street, this year’s nominations feature three retail companies defying expectations with their technology, innovation, or simply good old fashioned focus on quality. They are joined by the M&A target of the year and an institution still standing strong in the financial capital of the world.
London City Airport is the city’s most central airport, in London’s Royal Docks, an area of rapid regeneration and investment, just five miles from the City of London and close to the dynamic and fast-growing East London. The airport is favoured by travellers for its convenient location and unrivalled quick and efficient passenger experience – from the front door to departure lounge in 20 minutes or less. Currently ten airlines serve 45 domestic, European and U.S. routes and the airport welcomes over 4.8 million passengers per year. The airport offers an increasingly diverse choice of business and leisure connections – in 2019 adding Warsaw, Budapest, Vilnius, and Split. A transformational £500 million development is currently underway to create a world-class gateway for London and deliver a new airport experience for passengers, airlines, businesses and local communities.
Assets held on AJ Bell’s platform burst through the £50bn mark this summer as the retail broker takes advantage of a troubled spell for its big-name rival Hargreaves Lansdown. Unlike Hargreaves, AJ Bell has been unaffected by the scandal around fallen star fund manager Neil Woodford, with customer numbers edging towards 225,000. While many companies have flopped after coming to market in recent times, AJ Bell has thrived – its shares are up a whopping 170 per cent from the listing price, having hit the London Stock Exchange at the end of last year.
The iconic British store has been a favourite among music-lovers since it was founded by a teenage Julian Richer back in 1978. In May this year Richer received plaudits for his exceptionally generous decision to give 60 per cent of his shares to the company’s workers, forming an employee-ownership model overnight. The home entertainment retailer continues to defy the doom and gloom on UK high streets, with a success story that pushed its founder into the Rich List amid revenues in excess of £200m. Richer has long advocated ethical capitalism and in 2019 has well and truly put his money where his mouth is.
London Stock Exchange
The hub of Britain’s capital markets continues to fly in the face of an alleged EU power grab post-Brexit. Its own shares have risen in every year since the referendum and were already up 39 per cent before the company announced a bold and game-changing $27bn bid for data giant Refinitiv at the end of July – let alone after the recent £30bn counter-offer from Hong Kong Exchange and Clearing. Both proposals have sent the LSE’s shares even higher and they are now up more than 60 per cent year-to-date. The bitter shareholder row that embroiled the LSE at the end of 2017 seems like a distant memory; indeed, the new CEO and new chairman have succeeded in adding even more shine to this jewel in the City’s crown.
Beloved of City investors and trainer-crazy teenagers, JD Sports’ bull run shows no sign of running out of steam. The company’s shares are up around 90 per cent since the turn of the year with some Square Mile analysts expecting further progress following the acquisitions of Finish Line and FootAsylum. A runaway success in the UK, JD Sports’ growth opportunities lie beyond these shores; the company confirmed this summer that it had opened 18 new shops across Europe in the current fiscal year, plus another five in the Asia Pacific region. While other clothing retailers tumble into administration amid a miserable period for the British high street, JD Sports shows that inventive, nimble businesses can still thrive in the sector.
The wheels have come off Britain’s motoring sector in 2019 with car production sinking month after month. It is all the more impressive, then, that supercar-maker McLaren has bucked the trend, moving up a gear with bumper revenues and renewed optimism on the racing circuit. After a rocketing 2018 (in which sales soared 45 per cent) deliveries rose again in the first half of this year, with 2,335 shiney new Surrey-made speed machines dispatched to lucky customers. McLaren has found form in Formula One and is returning to Indycar racing in 2020.. Revenues accelerated 36.4 per cent in the first six months of the year and are well on track to break the £1bn mark for the second year running.
- 2018: Ocado
- 2017: Boohoo
- 2016: Fever-Tree
- 2015: Lidl
- 2014: Aldi
- 2013: Experian
- 2012: Diageo
- 2011: ARM Holdings
- 2010: Burberry
This category began as “Company of the Year” at the very first City A.M. Awards in 2010. It changed to “Business of the Year” in 2011, and has continued unchanged since then.