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The top 50 fast growth businesses in the region generate £2.09bn

By Simon Penfold | Business | Published:

With combined revenues of more than £2 billion the top 50 fastest growth businesses in the Black Country have seen their average turnover soar by 70 per cent over the last three years.

At the same time they have increased the size of their workforces, up 38 per cent over the three years, to employ more than 23,000 people today.

The impressive figures are revealed in the Black Country Growth Barometer, published today by accountancy and advisory firm BDO LLP.

The second annual Black Country Barometer measures turnover growth of the region’s mid-sized firms and identifies the fastest growing 50. The report also includes analysis of employment growth, fast growth sectors and districts within the region.

Transport and financial services top the table, in the form of Wolverhampton duo Pallet Track and Charter Court Financial, but other notable firms include construction business AMG Group and health food chain JG Foods, which trades as Grape Tree.

Manufacturing remains a key industry for the Black Country, representing 28 per cent of the top 50 companies. However, the real estate and construction sector also makes up 28 per cent of the list, which creates an optimistic outlook in a region where the regeneration of buildings and the supply of new business premises and houses are of paramount importance.

An example of this trend can be seen in the University of Wolverhampton’s development of the Springfield Brewery site that will house specialist construction and manufacturing education facilities in order to create the next generation of recruits.

In terms of turnover growth, the sectors leading the way are professional and financial services (102 per cent average growth) and retail and wholesale (78 per cent).

Employment growth has also been significant for the top 50 businesses. With an average increase of 38 per cent, the fast growth businesses now employ over 23,000 people.

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Topping the list is the retail and wholesale sector, which has reported a 50 per cent average increase in employment. There are 10 retail companies in the top 50, which now employ 2,361.

The utilities sector had the second highest growth rate (41 per cent).

The manufacturing sector’s growth rate comes in third (38 per cent increase). The 14 manufacturing companies in the top 50 employ 2,529 people.

Leaders of the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, the Black Country Chamber of Commerce and the University of Wolverhampton also contributed to the report, talking about the skills gap, regeneration and remediation of business premises and the implications of Brexit.

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The Midlands Engine was another key discussion point, with business leaders from across the board seemingly agreeing that it is a great opportunity to collaborate and share one powerful voice, but that it is early stages and key roles still need to be agreed.

Corin Crane, chief executive of the Black Country Chamber, spoke of how the region’s businesses can do more to help their growth. “There is so much support available for businesses, it can often be a confusing landscape but they need to ask for help and support from local organisations to support their growth and development,” said Mr Crane.

“We aren’t always the best at shouting about how great we are in the Black Country, and we want to help celebrate the great things happening in our area.”

This point was further reinforced by the chairman of the Black Country LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) Stewart Towe, who said: “Our Growth Hub is the first port of call for any Black Country businesses wishing to grow. We want to have broader conversations with businesses and are perfectly placed to signpost them in the direction of organisations that may be able to help further. We are proud of the continued progress we are making.”

Innovation and a vision for the future are key for Richard Green, managing director of AMG Group, which has seen its turnover grow almost 43 per cent to nearly £23 million. He said: “We like to mix old-fashioned values with innovative new ideas and our desire to constantly stay ahead of the game is extremely important. It is our goal over the next few years to be a £50m-turnover business and we believe this is achievable due to the people within our business and the fact we all love what we do.”

Nick Shutts, at JG Foods, has seen his Grape Tree chain grow to £19m turnover, and he wants to double the size of the business over the next four or five years. Nick and Nigel Morris founded the Jilian Graves health food chain which was sold in 2008. The new owner, Holland & Barrett, put it into administration in 2012. "It wasn't easy to piece the company back together," said Nick. "It's been stressful but we now have over 100 stores.

"All my head office staff are from the Black Country. The Black Country is great for fulfilling all our head office tasks and we hve a pool of skilled people to choose from. We are very positive about doing buisiness in the Black Country and the wider UK."

Simon Penfold

By Simon Penfold
Business Editor - @SPenfold_star

Business Editor based at the Express & Star's head office in Wolverhampton, looking for stories big & small.

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