MegaGrowth 50 2016: Fastest-growing exporters in Kent revealed

A fruit and vegetable wholesaler has taken top spot in the MegaGrowth 50 list of Kent’s fastest-growing companies by overseas revenues over the last four years.

1 - 824.6% - Gomez, Bridge

Exports are a small but rapidly growing part of Gomez’ business, making up £1.7 million of its £100 million annual turnover.

The company delivers fresh fruit and vegetables from more than 100 suppliers to a range of supermarkets, wholesalers and smaller retailers.

Gomez is the fastest-growing exporter in Kent
Gomez is the fastest-growing exporter in Kent

The independent company is led by managing director Jim Parmenter, who is also chairman of Dover Athletic Football Club.

Founded more than 60 years ago, it is based on an eight-acre site in Bridge, near Canterbury, where it has a 15,000sq m storage, packaging and processing plant.

The trading name of A Gomez Limited, it began life in Covent Garden market and moved to Kent in 1989 after years of growth. It doubled the size of its base in Bridge in 1995 and bought a neighbouring packhouse in 2001.

In April 2005, it launched its automated distribution centre, where driverless forklift trucks whizz around storerooms completing orders sent down from its management offices.

Gomez boss and Dover chairman Jim Parmenter
Gomez boss and Dover chairman Jim Parmenter

One of the UK’s largest produce companies, it has worked with the majority of its growers for more than 30 years.

Bosses said the firm is looking to develop new overseas sources as demand grows for top-quality produce 52 weeks a year.

In recent years it has developed new contacts in Poland, Senegal, Morocco and Brazil, gaining each the required accreditations to sell into the UK. This included new packhouses, coldstores and quality control systems.

On its website, it says it “strives to be the best and deliver to its customers in every aspect, whether that be quality, price, innovation or added value”.

LC Designs is behind the London Clock Company brand
LC Designs is behind the London Clock Company brand

2 - 595.3% - LC Designs, Aylesford

Exports account for almost £1.2 million of this clock maker’s £8.8 million turnover, which is up from a little more than £1 million last year.

The firm, which changed its name from The London Clock Company in the early 2000s, makes a range of designs including alarm, mantle and wall timepieces.

The business employs a team of 50 people. Its products are shipped to destinations including Europe, North America, Australasia and Asia.

A collection of high street names also work with the team to produce jewellery boxes, men’s gifts, ladies’ gifts and homeware.

Bosses boast the firm is the world’s leading designer of jewellery storage.

3 - 501.5% - Highway Care, Detling

This is the third straight year the crash barrier manufacturer has featured in the export list, having topped the table on the previous two occasions. It has developed and introduced a range of devices which are designed to increase protection for road users and reduce costs. These include temporary barriers, for high and low speed, which are deployed when road works are in place. Founded in 1976, Highway Care has only made the leap into the export market in recent years. Pre-tax profits nearly doubled to £2.9 million in 2014, according to its latest available accounts.

Crown Imperial's site in Herne Bay
Crown Imperial's site in Herne Bay

4 - 282.1% - Crown Imperial, Herne Bay

This year bosses at the kitchen furniture retailer have several reasons to celebrate. Not only do they appear on the MegaGrowth exports and turnover tables – they also celebrate their 70th anniversary of trading. The company has run a manufacturing facility in Herne Bay since 1987, where it makes some of its kitchen and living furniture. The building covers 100,000sq ft. The firm, which has been a regular on the MegaGrowth lists in recent years, is now owned by the third generation of the same family which founded it in Fulham in 1946.

Molten metal being poured into moulds at M J Allen on the Cobbs Wood industrial estate in Ashford
Molten metal being poured into moulds at M J Allen on the Cobbs Wood industrial estate in Ashford

5 - 125.7% - M J Allen Castings and Machining, Ashford

Based in Ashford since it was established in 1958, the metal casting manufacturer reported pre-tax profits of £1.6 million last year, up from more than £915,000 in 2014. Situated in Hilton Road on the Cobbs Wood Industrial Estate, it is led by managing director Tim Allen. A corporate video on the website gives a brief insight into the factory where parts are made for projects including restoring metal gates. The business supplies its specially made parts to more than 40 countries outside of the UK, which means more than 80% of its products end up overseas.

6 - 122.7% - Sunspot Tours, Sevenoaks

This travel agent was established in 1980. It offers specially-designed trips going to a range of destinations around the world. These include adventures to Sri Lanka, Lanzarote, Maldives, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Gozo and Cyprus among other popular places. You can book via the website or call the firm to arrange a package holiday. All-inclusive breaks are also available. It is a member of ABTA and ATOL protected.

7 - 114.1% - MC Air Filtration, Gillingham

Seven is a lucky number for this air filter manufacturer, which has maintained the same position in the exports table from last year. It makes products for the nuclear and defence industries, as well as for laboratories used by the NHS. Established in 1974, the business has a 3,000sq m factory where it makes items for a range of industries. It is the only UK company to design, manufacture and factory test its filters to nuclear standards in this country. On its website, bosses say the firm is “dedicated to meet and exceed customer requirements”.

Jacksons Fencing near Ashford has been in business since 1947
Jacksons Fencing near Ashford has been in business since 1947

8 - 85.2% - Jacksons Fencing, Ashford

This family-run business makes and fits garden fencing and gates. It was founded in 1947 under its original name of H.S. Jackson & Son (Fencing) Limited. The father and son founders of the business saw a gap in the market to sell fencing to farmers in their area when they set it up. Since then the firm has expanded to other regions including Essex and Leicester. In April, Jacksons revealed giant gates it had made for the French Eurotunnel terminal. Weighing in at 3.2 tonnes each, the 14m-long swing gates were used to add security to the Channel Tunnel.

CP Hart makes high-end bathroom furniture
CP Hart makes high-end bathroom furniture

9 - 74% - CP Hart, Dartford

A high-end bathroom retailer, the company grew sales by 10.2% in the last year alone to £37.6 million. Founded in London by Charles Percival Hart in 1937, it expanded under his sons Tom and John. Today it is owned by Charco 2010 Ltd, which has made Crossways Business Park in Dartford its head office, where it has a showroom. The company has nine showrooms in affluent parts of London, plus another seven across the country, including Tunbridge Wells. One of its goals is to increase contract sales with hotels and property developers.

The Generator Company is based at Rochester Airport
The Generator Company is based at Rochester Airport

10 - 72.8% - The Generator Company, Rochester

TGC International has been trading as the Generator Company since it was founded in the 1990s. Its brands also include rental business Powerhire, engine seller and repair firm CVS Diesel and marine engine specialist CVS PentaPower. The company, which employs about 50 people, supplies power generator equipment to a variety of different businesses around the world. Its customers include Cummins Power Generation, Scania and Mitsubishi. Bosses say its success has been based on bringing together excellence in design, innovation, quality and commitment to their customers.

The exports table is compiled using accounts filed at Companies House.

To see the fastest-growing companies by turnover growth, click here.

Click here to see past winners of MegaGrowth 50, as the list celebrates 15 years.

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