The MegaGrowth 50 list has been unveiled this morning - revealing the fastest growing businesses in the county.
The annual list - now in its 19th year - provides a performance table based on the average turnover growth of privately-owned businesses in Kent and Medway which have a minimum turnover of £1million as stipulated in full accounts registered at Companies House across the last four years..
It makes a welcome return after being put on pause due to the pandemic.
MegaGrowth 50 is compiled and sponsored by KM Media Group, business advisors and accountants Kreston Reeves and law firm Brachers.
Those making the list were the first to hear the run down at a special breakfast presentation this morning at the Tudor Park Marriott Hotel, near Maidstone.
Here are profiles of the top three, followed by the list in full...
1. Hectic Lifestyles
Turnover increase: 378.4%
When Bal Sandher started nutritional supplements firm Hectic Lifestyles in 2008, he invested all his savings into the business - the grand sum of £1,200.
But his decision to invest in his first product line - a hangover cure supplement - while he himself was unable to walk for six months due to a football injury, would be the seed which has seen year-on-year growth ever since.
That £1,200 multiplied, organically, into a £5.2million turnover business before the need of any loans, further investment or even an overdraft.
Finance requirements today are green lit without delay, given the firm’s proven track record of growth and success.
Based in ever-expanding facilities on the Medway Valley Park, the company is now the fastest growing business in the county.
Its last four years of accounts saw turnover rise from £1.4m to £6.9m in 2020. A rise of more than 378%.
There’s no sign of it slowing either. For 2021, turnover was closer to £11.2m and is already on track for between £15-17m this year. Next year it hopes to crack £23m.
Originally a direct-to-consumer business, since 2015-16, it started manufacturing products for other people.
“Within a year,” explains Bal, “we started this fully fledged manufacturing division, which we call NutraDirect. Around 99.5% of our business now presides in contract manufacturing.”
That’s primarily in capsules, tablets and powered blends. Soon it will include gummy vitamins.
“It’s just been a case of investing in all the right areas,” the managing director adds.
“It’s all down to having a good team here, a really entrepreneurial mindset in our growth and having a good finance company which enable us to get the asset finance deals on the table.”
It’s currently building a new factory neighbouring its site - which will take its footprint to some 70,000sq ft - which will enable it to stretch out into very different areas - including plant-based meat and vitamin chocolates.
With 75 staff now employed - a number which has more than tripled since 2020 - it is now recruiting for its factory which will take it up closer to 100 by Q1 next year.
Turnover increase: 224.4%
Sometimes in business, it’s about being in the right place at the right time.
BTL-UK was already a successful, growing business - specialising in bearings and power transmission systems - with two sites in Ashford.
The parts it manufactures are found in everything from every Scania and Volvo lorry on our roads and JCB diggers to the robots used by online groceries giant Ocado to pick orders and plenty more besides.
But in 2019 it decided to become the exclusive UK distributor for MSK Medical products. It saw it as a “useful add-on” to its many customers who needed personal protective equipment (PPE).
Just months later, the pandemic arrived, and it found its new products had unprecedented levels of demand.
The result was that the business, which had been growing organically and through acquisition since it was first started back in 1991, saw a spike in turnover the like of which it had never seen before.
Explains founder and managing director Ray Mifsud: “We were in such a strong position, as we already had supply chains in place, and everything met EU regulations so at the time it worked out extremely well for us.”
In 2019, turnover was £7.2million. In 2020 it was £21.4m. In addition to a large order from Amazon for its face masks, it also secured one of the UK government contracts - but chose not to make any money out of the contract - providing 12m face masks and covering only its costs.
Adds Ray: “They were good times for us as a business - but obviously difficult times which we all wish had never happened.”
Away from PPE, the business acquired Burgess Hill-based BH Precision Engineering in 2021. An existing supplier, it was struggling due to the impact of Covid and had gone into administration. Taken over and rebranded as BTL Precision, it is now turning a profit under its new owners.
And while it admits it may not quite match the PPE sales year, it does expect its core business to keep motoring in the right direction.
Turnover increase: 202.4%
When Damien South founded Bauvill back in 2014, its ambitions were modest.
But what started out as a fit-out and refurbishment local contractor working primarily in and around Medway, is today a multi-million pound business which continues to stretch out across the south of England.
Now as a main contractor, it continues to be independently owned, with Damien remaining as its managing director.
“Our growth has certainly been organic,” explains Max Scally, the firm’s marketing and pre-construction manager.
“I don’t think anyone had the thought it would be where it is now is such a short space of time. We’ve seen year-on-year organic growth for the last four or five years. Pre-Covid to now, we’ve trebled in size in all aspects - from staff to turnover, to size of project and resource.”
It’s a remarkable success story which has seen its revenues treble from £5.1million in 2018 to £15.5m last year.
The firm, based on the Medway City Estate, focuses on three key areas - education, health and commercial.
Adds Max: “The three divisions all work under the central umbrella but each are focused on the environments in which they operate.
“The NHS was a big driver of our growth through Covid. But hospital environments in Kent are different from schools and universities and the commercial element of what we offer. For us, it’s being able to target those areas with a bespoke offering but equally having dedicated teams to those divisions who have experience within each sector.”
Today the firm hires 34 staff directly, with access to a huge pool of contractors and suppliers from across the South.
And there looks little chance its growth is going to slow any time soon.
Explains the marketing manager: “We were recently accepted onto the NHS Shared Business Solutions Framework so we can now be directly awarded contracts. We’re the only main contractor in the South East who has got onto that.
“That may see us go towards Southampton and further afield for new NHS trust clients.”
THE FULL LIST IS...
Nigel Fright, managing partner at sponsor Kreston Reeves, said: "It’s always great to see Kent businesses doing well and the USP of the MegaGrowth 50 awards is that unlike traditional business awards, it picks up fantastic success stories of businesses who don’t ever shout about it."
James Bullock, head of corporate and commercial at Brachers, said: “For almost 20 years, the MegaGrowth 50 has recognised Kent and Medway’s most successful businesses and this year we’re celebrating those who have not only survived but thrived in the face of the recent challenging economic environment."