Published: 10:45, 02 November 2016
The MegaGrowth 50 lists the fastest-growing private companies in Kent by turnover growth over the last four years, with revenues of at least £1 million.
1 - 250.5% - Drink Warehouse UK, Ramsgate
The fastest-growing private company in Kent this year is a drinks wholesaler which runs a seven-day operation delivering a range of more than 3,500 tipples across the county.
Drink Warehouse UK – the top-ranked company in the MegaGrowth 50 list 2016 – was launched in 2010 by two pals who had “visited many bars and clubs” in the 20 years they had known each other and felt they had the acumen to run a successful business.
Today, it has 30 members of staff working from a 30,000sq ft depot shipping out Smirnoff, Bombay Sapphire, Remy Martin, Shepherd Neame ales and hundreds of other liquors, beers and alcopops from across the country.
“At the beginning there was no predicting what could happen in the business,” said director Mick Curtis, who launched the firm with his friend Demis Farley.
“By working 20-hour days, seven days a week, we knew if we continued in that manner we would be rewarded with the increased sales.”
Within its first year, the company was able to employ its first full-time driver and opened its first premises in Margate.
Mr Curtis puts its success down to its independence, giving it the flexibility needed to deliver where there was demand and be competitive on pricing. It quickly won the support of brands like Peroni, Jagermeister and Luxardo, Carlsberg and Heineken.
“From the start, my business partner and I wanted to bring a fresh approach to a traditionally old-fashioned trade,” said Mr Curtis.
“This meant going beyond just being a wholesaler. We realised it includes extending our services beyond the point of sale, providing our customers with brand support for their bar, complimentary tailored wine menus, websites, staff training and wine tastings for our customers.
"We believe going this extra step with our customers is an adage to our success and has helped us grow.”
As its growth continued, it expanded into two neighbouring industrial units in Margate before moving to its 30,000sq ft warehouse.
This year, the firm built a new mezzanine floor to accommodate its growing sales and customer service team.
Alongside new office space, it build a boardroom and tasting room for customers to try new products.
Mr Curtis said: “I come from a sales background, previously working at a steel manufacturing company, managing my own sales team of 15 people dealing with sales that run into the hundreds of thousands.
“Demis on the other hand comes from a background involving logistics and the importing of goods.
“Together we believed we had the skills required to start a successful business, and so far, we are yet to be proved wrong.”
The future goal for Drink Warehouse’s bosses is to keep up the firm’s momentum.
“We want to keep growing,” said Mr Curtis. “We operate within Kent seven days a week, delivering everyday within CT postcodes.
“Next we aim to offer seven-days-a-week deliveries to the whole of Kent. We are hoping to expand into neighbouring counties, with the addition of a second warehouse to help facilitate this.”
After topping the MegaGrowth 50 list, perhaps bosses will pause for a moment to toast their success.
2 - 244.5% - Big Motoring World, West Malling
The UK’s largest independent used- BMW, Mercedes and Audi retailer is aiming to become a long-term fixture in MegaGrowth as it puts expansion plans into action.
This summer it gained planning permission for a new 22-acre headquarters in Blue Bell Hill, which will create more than 300 jobs.
It also aims to build on an adjoining seven-acre site at its West Malling showroom, doubling the number of vehicles it can offer and creating vacancies for another 200 staff.
The company already employs 200 people at the forecourt, plus at a service centre in Snodland, a polishing workshop in Aylesford and two other showrooms in Canterbury.
Sales are expected to reach 15,000 vehicles from its West Malling site this year. It predicts sales will increase to 35,000 cars over the next two years as it expands into Blue Bell Hill.
After securing planning permission, chief executive Peter Waddell said: “We are delighted to announce the vast growth of the company, which will deliver a great wealth of choice to our customers.
“These plans come after a number of highly successful years within the firm. Praise must go to my management team and staff who keep surprising me with the figures.
“Our expansion will help propel the business into the next stage of its development. We are excited about providing more job opportunities and becoming one of the key employers in the area.”
Big Motoring World, which is the trading name of Bapchild Motoring World (Kent), has been operating in the county since 1989. It stocks about 1,500 pre-owned cars on site.
The business, which won the prestigious Motor Trade Award of Independent Used Car Retailer of the Year, is also expanding its apprenticeship scheme.
3 - 213.5% - Childrensalon, Tunbridge Wells
A luxury children’s clothes retailer, Childrensalon has made child’s play of appearing in the MegaGrowth 50 list in recent years.
The company is in the top three for the second time in three years, having come second in 2014, followed by an appearance just outside the medals in fourth place in 2015.
Its success is built on its popularity with royalty, dignitaries and, more recently, wealthy Arabic families.
It sells garments made by Armani, Burberry, Gucci, Roberto Cavalli and many other designers, plus its own-brand luxury attire.
“The past five years has been a strong period of growth for Childrensalon and growing at a very fast pace was a big challenge,” said chief executive Michele Harriman-Smith, daughter of its founder Sybil Harriman, who launched her boutique The Children’s Salon in Tunbridge Wells in 1952.
Since then, the company has been through a period of intense investment, supporting its online business by opening new warehousing and head office space, plus hiring new talent, in the last five years. The firm has six warehouses and 247 employees.
“I believe one of our brand values, ‘learn and progress’, is behind our rolling success,” said Mrs Harriman-Smith.
“We are constantly challenging ourselves by continuously improving how we work together to offer the best possible shopping experience for our customers.”
Alongside its quality products, the company has been recognised for its dedication to its clients, winning the Customer Service and Commitment Award at KEiBA 2016.
“All the awards and accreditations Childrensalon has received in the last few years are a great honour,” said Mrs Harriman-Smith.
“Being included thrice in the Kent MegaGrowth 50 table is indeed an incredible success for us. Even though I’m personally very humbled by this success, I’m proud of what has been achieved without external funding.”
Although it has been established for a long time, the firm, which employs 13 of its founder’s family, barely prepared for its sudden growth.
“Certainly our growth, especially in such challenging financial times, is both surprising and phenomenal,” said Mrs Harriman-Smith.
“Since we launched the online business in 1999, it has ultimately always been about having fun and being passionate about what we do. Commercial success came second and, when it came, we tried to be prepared.
“We constantly invested in customer service, logistics, technology and are regularly improving the user journey to make sure the customer’s experience is as seamless as possible.”
What is the next big goal for Childrensalon?
Mrs Harriman-Smith said: “Over the next few years our aim is to maintain our position as the market-leading retailer of designer clothes for children and sustain our year-on-year growth rate of 40%.
“We aim to maintain this growth by further growing our customer base in existing markets such as the UK but also establishing our presence in foreign markets.
“And above all, as it was from day one, our goal is to be the best-loved childrenswear retailer in the world.”
4 - 207.1% - Reliable Contractors, Margate
Last year’s winner of MegaGrowth 50 expanded after work on sites like the Olympic Park and finishes just outside the medal places this time. The family-run labour supplier for the construction industry has been in business for more than 40 years. The firm has enjoyed its biggest years of growth after supplying civil and rail engineering staff to major projects like Crossrail and renovations of Victoria station and Tottenham Court Road. It aims to capitalise on future infrastructure projects like HS2 and Ebbsfleet Garden City. The firm has more than 500 engineers on its books and offers training for staff on different aspects of construction.
5 - 166% - M3 Solutions, Folkestone
There are many strings to this firm’s bow, which has delivered projects from Canary Wharf to Somerset and Edinburgh. It designs and builds solar panels for commercial property and installs LED lighting. A new venture is commercial battery storage. It supplies office furniture and formerly fit out railway stations. The company specialises in energy-saving designs and 70% of its clients remain in place while it carries out refurbishment projects. On the construction side, the firm coordinates building tasks and installs and designs mechanical and electrical parts, partitioning systems, screening and ramps.
6 - 146% - Highway Care, Detling
This MegaGrowth regular features in both the list of turnover and export lists this year. It manufacturers crash barriers and hit the jackpot with its BarrierGuard 800, which it says is “widely regarded as the best performing portable steel barrier in the world”. The temporary steel wall has connecting parts meaning it can be put in place at a rate of 300m per hour. It also has barriers on wheels and products designed to protect motorcyclists and trees. The company employs about 80 people and increased turnover by £4.3 million to £18.8 million last year alone – a jump of 29%.
7 - 143.3% - Chartway Group, Maidstone
Last year this house builder appeared second in our list of companies with the fastest-growing turnover. The year before that, it achieved a record-breaking top spot. The company grew rapidly after taking on lucrative housing association contracts to build affordable homes. Since then it has launched its private development arm Westerhill Homes, building three, four and five bedroom homes across Kent. It also owns building contractor BBS Construction, with more than 30 years experience of work for the public and private sector. The group is capable of building more than 250 homes a year and has a turnover of more than £33 million.
8 - 134.7% - Moss Electrical, Dartford
Launched in 1962, this electrical wholesaler started life selling parts from a shop in Plaistow, East London. It became Moss Electrical Co Ltd in 1992 and moved to a 150,000sq ft facility in Dartford in 2008. One of the UK’s largest independent stockists, it has more than 20,000 product lines sent out from three national distribution centres in Kent, South Wales and Manchester. The firm also offers project management services, with previous experience at the Olympic Park, Westfield Shopping Centre and the Shard. Last year the business achieved a record turnover of £55.5 million, with pre-tax profits of more than £2 million.
9 - 127% - RIFT Group, Ashford
The bronze medalist last year, this group was founded by Jan Post in 1999 to help Channel Tunnel workers claim back tax relief. Since then a team of nearly 150 employees has helped 35,000 customers reclaim money owed to them. In recent years the group has diversified and opened up an accounting and will-writing business. It also offers help claiming research and development tax credits. Legal services are also something the company offers consumers.
10 - 113.5% - Energyhelpline.com, Maidstone
This website offers a free switching service for people looking for a better deal on their gas and electric bills. The firm boasts it can save consumers who swap companies through the site up to £589. The website is the trading name of Fundraising Innovations Limited, which has been in business since 2002. The price comparison website has benefitted from efforts by politicians at Westminster to make it easier for customers to switch energy suppliers. It has a phone line for people to call if they need any further advice on what to do next. Pre-tax profits climbed 17% last year to £1.3 million.
11 - 107% - Bates Office, Rochester
This online retailer sells everything a business might need in an office. As well as its site on an industrial estate in Medway, which is its head office, it has distribution centres in Crewe, Wrexham, Halifax and Chippenham. Through its website it sells stationery, computer accessories, cleaning equipment and furniture, as well as tea and coffee supplies. Bosses pride themselves on excellent customer service and are passionate about delivering low prices and high-quality products. Pre-tax profits more than trebled in the year to April 30, 2015, up 266% to £835,370 as it improved its customer base and increased cover in the office furniture market through an acquisition.
12 - 105.1% - Texcel Technology, Crayford
This 40-year-old business began as a specialist in designing and manufacturing analogue ship loading computers. Today it designs, develops and makes various computer parts and systems under contract. Bosses say its success is due to the business maintaining a healthy growth, based on honest partnerships with stable customers. Its products range from simple printed circuit boards to complex components for the marine, transport, military and medical sectors. Pre-tax profits remained steady, rising 1.4% to £414,000 in the year to January as it won a number of new customers.
13 - 104.8% - Pro-Force Recruitment, Canterbury
This recruitment agency has been in business since March 2005. The company is a supplier of labour to the agricultural, industrial and driving industries. It is busy during harvest season. Turnover jumped by nearly a quarter to £16.6 million in the last year alone, according to its latest accounts. One of its key recent projects has been the Orchard Views worker village, which is due to open later this year. This will house migrant workers, looking for seasonal work, in lodges and static caravans.
14 - 103.9% - Sahara Presentation Systems, Dartford
This firm has been operating from its current base for 35 years. It designs and manufactures touchscreens for gadgets and electrical products. The company, which employs 73 people, has installed its interactive touchscreens in school classrooms all over Britain. Its tablets and electronic boards are also used in the health, public and corporate sectors. Pre-tax profits grew by a third last year to £4.6
million. The company has foundations going back to 1924, when it was a typewriter company. Now it makes annual turnover of more than £38 million.
15 - 103.1% - Motorline, Canterbury
This family-owned business has been trading since 1972. It sells new and used cars for several brands, including Volkswagen, Renault and Toyota and has the only Maserati dealership in Kent. It has 36 showrooms the South East, the South West and Wales. The car retailer, which was awarded rights to open the county’s first Toyota franchise in Canterbury in 1976, employs more than 1,200 people and is run by brothers Glen, Gary and Thomas Obee, plus finance director Paul Betts. It had 500 employees in 2012. Pre-tax profits grew 38% to £5.8 million last year.
16 - 102.4% - JCB Group, Gillingham
This car retailer has showrooms across Kent and Sussex, selling Honda, Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen. Bosses described 2015 as a “buoyant” year for the new vehicle market, helped by cheap access to finance. It bought its first Skoda dealership in Worthing last year, part of a strategic move into Sussex, adding about £10 million to the company’s turnover. Founded in 1998, the firm has about 500 cars in stock at any one time and also conducts MOTs and services at its various depots. It also sells commercial vehicles. Its team of nine specialists have more than 100 years experience in the industry. JCB Group is the trading name of JCB Medway.
17 - 100.2% - Netbox Digital, Rochester
Ranking higher than its 26th place last year is this MegaGrowth regular. The printer and scanner supplier has featured in the annual lists for four consecutive years now. The company, which employs more than 50 people, has benefitted from an increasing number of small and medium-sized companies looking for office equipment. Its suppliers include Lexmark, Ricoh and Sharp. Bosses say its aim is to help firms create, produce, store and find documents easily. Last year pre-tax profits grew 11% to £806,000. The firm, based on Rochester Airport industrial estate, launched a recruitment business in October 2015 and has opened an office in Essex.
18 - 99.3% - Futures for Children, Maidstone
Down one this year is this fostering agency. It provides carers and guardians for children who are being looked after by local authorities. Its first office opened in Maidstone in 1999 and it has since grown to run several sites across the UK. It has a series of contracts and individual agreements with different councils. The business recorded a turnover of £12.7 million in 2015, up by three quarters of a million on the previous year, despite growing pressure on local authority budgets.
19 - 95.9% - Ramac Group, Sevenoaks
This real estate investor and property developer hit the headlines a few years ago when it took over the Baypoint Club in Sandwich, saving the leisure centre from administration. It has built on land across Kent, including housing at Dunks Green, a convenience store in Lenham and replacing the fire-damaged clubhouse at Princes Golf Club in Sandwich. The firm, which has net assets of £15.9 million according to its latest accounts, is owned by property developer Michael McGuirk. It had investment property worth £28.5 million on its books last February.
20 - 94.2% - Air Management Systems, Tonbridge
Our next entry supplies equipment for asbestos removal. It sources gadgets from around the world and also makes its own range at a factory in Wigan. It manufactures van trailers and mobile welfare units used by workers after they have been in contact with the harmful building substance. The company runs a hire fleet and services equipment. It also operates through distributors in Australia, New Zealand, Spain, France and Israel. Pre-tax profits were up 70% to £1.5 million in 2014, according to its latest available accounts.
21 - 88.4% - Otford Builders Merchants, Sevenoaks
This building merchant is no stranger to the MegaGrowth chart. The firm, which appeared in 48th place last year, started trading in 1972 as a family-run company. One of the largest independent builders merchants in the south of England, it supplies all kinds of materials including bricks, plaster, doors, fencing and plumbing. It also offers landscaping and decorating services. With another base in Ashford, it serves both trade and private individuals. The enterprise offers a free local delivery service and, depending on the amount of material ordered, aims for next day delivery.
22 - 86.5% - Roe Timberframe, Margate
This family-run residential and commercial design and manufacturing company was founded 15 years ago. It makes timber frames, joists and roof trusses used in for the building industry. The company is also a sub-contractor which works with developers and architects in the South East. Bosses say the firm embraces green construction methods and regularly invests in staff training. Previous projects include student halls for the University of Greenwich in Medway and for Canterbury Christ Church University. Pre-tax profits more than trebled to £1.6 million in the year to the end of April 2015, up 252%. The growth figure refers to Roe Limited.
23 - 86.3% - Greenworks Solutions, Edenbridge
This company is one of the largest distributors of water coolers and washroom supplies in Europe. However, its largest growth areas has been in supplying coffee machines, driven by the acquisition of office food and drink firm Zepbrook. It operates from six different locations across the UK. The enterprise also delivers and installs water boilers and filtration. Its most recent available accounts show the firm has undergone a real turnaround, turning a profit of nearly £6 million in the year to September 2015, compared to a loss of £1.4 million a year earlier.
24 - 86.2% - Take 1 Script Services, Cranbrook
Digital transcription is the speciality for this firm which is returning to our annual list. It specialises in translating and subtitling services. The businesses has been employed by major TV and broadcasting companies based around the world. It handles thousands of files of media every week through the internet. It boasts international offices in Santiago, Los Angeles and New York, but the business is mainly managed from its head office in Kent. Clients who have used the resources in the past include network giants BBC, ITV, Sky, National Geographic and Endemol.
25 - 83.9% - TCS Screeding, Hextable
This company is the largest screeding and underfloor heating specialist in the UK. Formed in 2004, it works across commercial and residential developments, where it supplies a range of floor coatings. Previous clients have included the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Justice. It has also worked on the Shard, the Olympic basketball court and the Cutty Sark visitor centre. It has offices in Kent, London, Birmingham and Glasgow which lets it accommodate many projects of all sizes, with different customers, at the same time. Pre-tax profits grew 29% to £745,000 in 2015.
26 - 82.4% - Tatham Homes, Mereworth
This family-run company was established in 1988. It designs and builds individual homes, which have been built on small plots in Sevenoaks, Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and the surrounding villages. The bespoke home planners invite customers to join a team of professional designers to devise a layout which suits them. Projects range from creating a cottage with two bedrooms to an 8,000sq ft country home. It has won many accolades at events like the British Housebuilder awards and the New Homes awards.
27 - 80.1% - Simms International, Chatham
This distributor supplies electronic storage devices to a range of small businesses and blue chip clients include BAE Systems. The trading name of Rorke Holdings, it sells memory technology including USB sticks, memory cards, industrial flash drives and encrypted devices. It also services equipment and provides spare parts to customers in sectors like aerospace, defence, data centres, marine, medical, security and transport. Launched in 1990, it is a distributor for IT brands like Kingston, Innodisk, Pretec, CSM, IronKey and Safexs. Pre-tax profits remained solid last year, up 2% to 672,000.
28 - 79.7% - GPS Marine, Rochester
For more than 50 years this company has served the maritime industry. The firm carries out a variety of tasks, from dredging and surveying to demolition and removing wrecks. It transports goods by barge and has a engineering and construction division. Teams of divers carry out underwater work and it also hires out vessels like tugs and pontoons. Bosses pride themselves on providing safe, innovative and environmentally friendly solutions. Its latest available accounts show pre-tax profits nearly trebled to £840,000 in 2014.
29 - 75.8% - WW Martin, Ramsgate
This construction firm was established in 1877. In the past the company has worked on buildings in sectors such as education, residential, health and leisure. In March this year the business completed the 30-bedroom Maurice House Care Home in Broadstairs. It will be used by adults with higher dependency levels of care. It has also worked on making a £2.5 million visitor attraction at the Chatham Dockyard. The entrance, which is now complete, links two 18th century timber-framed buildings. Turnover was up by more than £8 million last year to £35.8 million, according to accounts filed at Companies House.
30 - 75.6% - VIDAfresh, Dartford
Our next entry is an importer, distributor and wholesaler. Founded in 2010, it brings in a variety of different fresh fruits, salads and vegetables from around the globe. It claims to be a specialist in bringing in melons and pineapples. To reduce costs it has control of much of the supply chain from the growing stage to owning production sites across the world. It boasts a close relationship with its farmers to make sure the produce is as high quality and reasonably priced as possible for consumers. The business returns to the MegaGrowth 50 chart this year after appearing in 14th place in 2015.
31 - 74.1% - Eaglecliff, Sevenoaks
This recruitment agency specialises in providing people in the IT industry. The firm discovered a niche in the market and now supplies skilled technical computer workers. It launched in 1985 and since then it has diversified into accounting and public relations. Recently it has expanded into parts of London and now serves many companies listed on the FTSE 100 index and several Fortune 500 firms. Pre-tax profits inched up 2% to £1.2 million in the year to the end of March 2015.
32 - 70.1% - Walker Construction, Folkestone
The building firm grabbed the headlines for its role in constructing the Memorial Arch in Folkestone, which was opened by Prince Harry. It has also carried out renovations of
Canterbury West and West Malling stations, and built an extension to Hawkinge Primary School. The firm was founded in September 1964 by brothers Hector, Stephen and Ray Walker, sons of Reginald Walker, as Walker Bros (Civil Engineering) Ltd. It puts its growth in recent years down to an “upturn in market conditions”. This year the firm, which has an in-house design team, won an International Safety Award. Other key projects include the construction of a new Blacksole Bridge in Herne Bay.
33 - 69.5% - FM Conway, Sevenoaks
Traffic management, lighting and highway repairs are just some of the things this infrastructure services company can do. Having recently moved into new headquarters in Sevenoaks, this business has maintenance contracts in many of London’s boroughs.
It had been based in Dartford since 2000 but moved its 250 staff to a three-storey office block on the Vestry Industrial Estate in June this year. The business, which also maintains a number of the capital’s parks, stadiums, venues and communities, saw turnover growth of 40% last year. Bosses say it has expertise in areas such as LED lighting systems, artistic lighting and security lighting.
34 - 68.7% - Alltask, Rochester
Primarily a scaffolding contractor, past works for this company include the Dartford QEII bridge, Medway M2 bridge and the Channel Tunnel. Recent work includes contracts on the development of Crossrail, the new rail line running below London. The firm also provides services to the asbestos removal and industrial insulation sectors. Founded in 1992, it has supplied scaffolding for the construction of several power stations, including at Aylesford, Kemsley and Grain. It also has clients in the paper mill industry, including DS Smith near Sittingbourne. Pre-tax profits more than trebled to nearly £1.5 million in the year to the end of September 2015, up 230%.
35 - 67.4% - The Generator Company, Rochester
Also featuring in this year’s export list, TGC International has been trading as the Generator Company since 2000. The firm provides generators to different sectors. A variety of businesses around the world use the organisation’s services, including Cummins Power Generation, Scania and Mitsubishi. It also hires generators, cables and electrical distribution equipment. The firm also has successful subsidiaries: Powerhire, CVS Diesel and CVS PentaPower. The Generator Company is the trading name of TGC International.
36 - 67.1% - Crown Imperial, Herne Bay
This family-owned kitchen seller has been a reliable regular in recent MegaGrowth 50 lists. Celebrating its 70th anniversary, it launched 1946 as a toy firm and evolved into a contract manufacturer of furniture by the mid 1950s. It came to Herne Bay in 1959, where it has built a factory and showroom. There are more than 80 displays featuring kitchen products, living and bedroom items. Incorporated as Crown Products (Kent) Limited, the company also has a major showroom in Daventry, Northamptonshire.
37 - 66.3% - MJD Group, Swanscombe
This new entry to the MegaGrowth 50 is a family-owned haulage firm which carries goods for blue-chip companies, including a major soft drink manufacturer. It also has a warehouse at Littlebrook next to the Dartford Crossing. Founded as M.J.Dole Transport by Michael
John Dole in 1969, today it serves both national and international companies. Turnover has increased steadily, up 11% to £10.7 million in
the year to September 2015. In-house lorry driver training is available for people who want to take up a new career. Bosses said they are committed to making sure the road freight business does not have a negative impact on the environment.
38 - 63.9% - MC Personnel, Gillingham
Established in 1998, this recruitment firm serves the industrial, engineering, catering, office and driving sectors. It boasts a “professional personal service” supplying workers throughout the South East. Pre-tax profits nearly doubled to £640,000 in 2014, according to its most recent available accounts. The business also owns a fleet of mini buses which are leased out to collect people for the school run or other private hire. Candidates, who are supplied to a variety of different industries, are tested in food hygiene, manual handling, maths and English.
38 - 63.9% - Elsatex, Rochester
With eight years experience, this textile business appears in the list for the third straight year. The company is now a group divided into three divisions. Elsatex supplies contract textiles, its Victoria London brand makes luxury products for retailers and Clearance Textiles caters for the affordable market. Tea towels, bed linen and other fabric products are made at its factory in Bangladesh and exported around the world to the USA, Canada, Australia, France and Scandinavia. Turnover is due to increase by £2 million in this financial year for after attracting business from household names like TK Maxx and Choice, the discount retailer for Next. It won business of the year at the 2013 Medway Business Awards and was named SME business of the year at KEiBA in 2014.
40 - 63.6% - RHL, Ashford
Since 1977 this recruitment consultancy has been helping firms find workers for technical roles. The trading name of Recruitment Holdings, it supplies staff to the energy sector, life sciences, built environment, automotive, design and manufacturing and rail industries. As well as providing manpower, it offers a helping hand in interviewing candidates, obtaining work visas for clients, finance support and managing payrolls. Pre-tax profits grew nearly a third to £391,000 in 2014, according to its latest available accounts. Its website features a section for prospective employees to start their job search with a section dedicated to uploading their CV.
41 - 63.5% - ICA Group, Paddock Wood
This building contractor has evolved into a specialist in cold storage since it was founded more than a century ago. Today it is an international leader in temperature-control technology storing vegetables, salads, prepared meals, bakery, processed meat, wine, beer and juice. The firm also serves the pharmaceutical and drug manufacturing industries. The trading name of International Controlled Atmosphere, the group comprises three divisions – ICA Storage, STS Refrigeration and ICA Instruments. The latter has been designing and manufacturing its own patent-held technology for the storage of fresh produce for over 30 years. As well as storage, its products are used to keep IT and data rooms cool or to keep other sensitive areas at a steady, regulated temperature.
42 - 60.1% - Topbond Group, Sittingbourne
This construction firm gained headlines after it rebuilt the Scenic Railway rollercoaster at Dreamland amusement park. It increased its turnover by nearly three quarters last year alone to £9.7 million and has been in the building industry for 41 years. Its five divisions operate in various parts of construction, including designing and build of bridges, marine services, joinery and natural stone. Contract values
range from a few hundred pounds to more than £10 million. Previous projects include the Tonbridge Locks flood defences and work at Canary Wharf.
43 - 59.6% - Insafe, Tunbridge Wells
The oldest and largest British-owned safe company offers a range of security and lock services. Its products include fire-resistant filing cabinets capable of withstanding more than 1,000C and electronic fingerprint safe locks. It tailor-makes safes for specific spaces and supplies all grades of vaults and strongroom doors. The company has a team of in-house engineers trained at its own academy and a team of master locksmiths approved by industry bodies. It also has a 24-hour helpdesk open seven days a week. Its website boasts a fast response time to anywhere in the UK, as it has staff dotted all around country. Its latest accounts show profits before tax doubled to more than £1.5 million in the year to the end of September 2015.
44 - 59.2% - Edward Vinson, Faversham
This farm has become a leading supplier of soft fruit to major supermarket chains Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and Tesco. Over the last 150 years it has produced a variety of plants and berries. Its “breeding programme”, which staff say has been extremely successful, has been in place for the past 25 years, particularly for strawberries. These are also grown at licenced farms across Europe, including Brooker Farm in Newchurch, Romney Marsh. Once its fruit has been picked it is sent to its packhouse, which can employ up to 50 people in busy periods. The firm works from a number of different sites including at London Road, Newington, and Norham Farm in Selling, Faversham.
45 - 59% - Goldex Investments, Gravesend
The largest Costa Coffee franchise in the UK trades from 56 stores across Kent, Essex, Surrey and Sussex. The majority of its cafes (33) are based in the county and the firm has been a finalist for numerous awards, including the Dartford and Gravesham Business Awards. It was named best hospitality and leisure business at the 2014 Bromley Business Awards. Costa Coffee was founded in London by brothers Sergio and Bruno Costa in 1971 and is part of the largest and fastest-growing coffee shop chain in the UK. It is the only hot drink chain to source 100% of its beans from Rainforest Alliance-certified farms.
46 - 57.4% - Sparshatts, Sittingbourne
This Mercedes-Benz commercial dealer buys and sells old and new trucks and vans. It clings on to a place in the MegaGrowth 50 list, having been 12th last year. The firm, which has been in business more than 40 years, has a number of sites around the county including in Ashford, Dartford, Sittingbourne and Tonbridge. Having been named Truck Dealer of the Year in 2014, pre-tax profits inched up 4% to £1.4 million in 2014, according to its most recent accounts. The group, which employs more than 180 people, offers an insurance and finance option for its customers.
46 - 57.4% - Red Eagle, Folkestone
This recruitment specialist was founded by three relatives. Founded in 2004, it places thousands of candidates with hundreds of employers each week. It is a major supplier of blue-collar workers throughout Kent for sectors like waste and recycling, industrial and manufacturing, food processing, drivers, construction, corporate and commercial. This year Sittingbourne-based JM Recruitment has become a partner company and it has launched a joint venture in Bexley called Red Eagle Recruitment Limited. In 2013, it launched a previous joint venture called Site Labour Supplies, specialising in temporary workers for the construction, trades and labour industry. Pre-tax profits grew 11% to £742,000 last year.
48 - 56.9% - FGS Agri, Pluckley
Established 30 years ago as a family-run agricultural contracting company, today this firm manages livestock and arable farms for clients across the south of England on a contract basis. By using the business, farmers save on overheard and equipment costs. Its farming division covers 4,700 acres of arable and beef production. The company runs a fleet of tractors and agricultural machines and offers training to all staff. Significant contracts include the handling of 350,000 tonnes of sewage cake a year for Thames Water and the total waste management contract for DS Smith Recycling. Affiliated companies include FGS Plant, FGS Organics, Countrystyle Recycling, waterdirect and EnVar.
49 - 56.8% - Laguna Motorcycles, Maidstone
This motorbike seller has three sites in the county. It sells new and used motorbikes from the likes of Triumph, Suzuki, Honda, Yamaha and Ducati. The business offers cheaper bike insurance through a number of partners and carries out repairs at its workshops. It sells biker clothing and accessories. Since 2012, it has run True Heroes Racing team, competing in the Ducati Tri Options Cup, whose riders are injured service personnel. On its website it has a comprehensive calendar of events for
two-wheel junkies, including the May Day Run and Faversham Show. New riders can also learn safety techniques using its links with Phoenix training school.
50 - 55.8% - GSE Group, Ashford
This civil engineering and construction company has been in business for more than 25 years. Today it operates in three main divisions: GSE Civil Engineering, GSE Plant and GSE Developments. It undertakes work in education, industrial, retail, residential, commercial, rail and airport sectors on projects from £50,000 to £3 million, on both a main and sub-contract basis. Its plant hire fleet includes Hitachi 20-tonne tracked excavators and a variety of other vehicles. The company also owns and is developing a 140-acre plot of land at Waterbrook Park, in south Ashford, and was behind the £9 million redevelopment of the Hythe Imperial Hotel.
MegaGrowth 50 is calculated using accounts filed at Companies House and those filed by firms directly to the KM Group.
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More by this authorEllis Stephenson