With both London and mainland Europe in easy reach, Kent is a geographically attractive location for start-ups and existing business alike. With the Thames Estuary Development Plan launched in early 2016, continuing investment into the area and improved transport links, Kent’s already thriving business community is in an excellent position for future growth.
The following is a list of Kent’s fastest growing companies with revenue of over £1m over the last four years. It represents a who’s who list of the bright and innovative local companies driving growth in this corner of England.
1. Drink Warehouse UK, Ramsgate – 250.5% growth
Drink Warehouse UK is a drinks wholesaler operating 20 hours per day, 7 days per week, delivering a range of 3500 types of drink across the county. The company was set up in 2010 by two friends, who attribute the company’s success in the alcohol wholesale world to its independence and flexibility.
Its huge four year growth of 250.5% is the result of employing 30 staff and moving into new premises, including a 30,000 sq ft warehouse.
2. Big Motoring World, West Malling – 244.5% growth
Big Motoring World, the largest independent used-car dealers in the UK, has been operating out of the area since 1989. This summer, they obtained planning permission to build a 22 acre headquarters in Blue Bell Hill and plan to employ an additional 500 staff.
The company’s CEO, Peter Waddell, believes that their 244.5% growth is down to well performing staff. They certainly invest in them from the start, and recently expanded their apprenticeship scheme.
3. Childrensalon, Tunbridge Wells – 213.5% growth
Family run business, Childrensalon, sells luxury designer clothes for children and is popular with royalty. The firm focuses heavily on customer service and creating the best shopping experience for its customers.
Although the first boutique opened in Tunbridge Wells in 1952, its recent growth rate can be explained by a period of intense investment, following on from the launch of its online shop in 1999. It has in the last five years expanded into new warehouses and headquarters and now boasts 247 employees, resulting in growth of 213.5% in the last four years.
4. Reliable Contractors, Margate – 207.1% growth
Another family run business, Reliable Contractors has actually dropped from first position last year to fourth. The firm has supplied labour to major UK infrastructure projects such as the Olympic Park and Cross Rail and Victoria Station. The company has continued to build on its success this year with huge four year growth of 207.1%. Reliable The firm has over 500 engineers on its books and plans to continue capitalise on its success by supplying engineers for other huge UK projects like HS2 and Ebbsfleet Garden City.
5. M3 Solutions, Folkestone – 166% growth
M3 Solutions specialises in energy saving solutions though the design and construction of solar panels for commercial properties as well as LED lighting solutions and battery storage (which is seen as the next big engineering challenge within the renewable energy sector). In addition, the company fits out railway stations, refurbishes premises and provides partitioning systems, screening and ramps, as well as supplying office furniture.
6. Highway Care, Detling – 146% growth
Highway Care manufactures crash barriers. Its newest product, BarrierGuard 800, is the highest performing portable steel barrier in Europe and the US, according to internationally recognised testing criteria. The company’s innovation and drive within this manufacturing sector is reflected by its massive growth of 146% over the last four years. It currently employs approximately 80 staff and increased its turnover by 29% last year.
7. Chartway Group, Maidstone – 143.3% growth
Last year’s second place, the house builder Chartway Group’s growth first began with a Housing Association contract to build affordable homes. It has its own building contractor firm, BBS Construction and it has also recently developed a private development company called Westerhill Homes, through which it builds houses throughout Kent. It boasts growth of 143.3% over the last four years.
8. Moss Electrical, Dartford – 134.7% growth
Electrical wholesalers, Moss Electrical, has three national distribution centres in the UK. Whilst its core service is as a wholesaler, providing a wide range of products, it also now provides project management services.
Its growth in the last four years of 134.7% has been achieved through record turnovers of £55.5 million with pre-tax profits of over £2 million.
9. RIFT Group, Ashford – 127% growth
After starting life in 1999 to assist Channel Tunnel workers claiming tax relief, RIFT Group has developed to become a team of almost 150 staff. The company has recently diversified to include will-writing, accountancy, legal services and assistance with claiming research and development tax credits. This diversification has assisted the company to achieve a growth of 127% over the last four years.
10. Energyhelpline.com, Maidstone – 113.5% growth
This web-based company provides a switching service for consumers seeking a better deal from their gas and electricity suppliers. It has recently benefitted from the government’s attempts to make switching easier for consumers, which helps account for the company’s growth of 113.5% over four years.