Conquering the business landscape
In the aftermath of the recent financial crisis, the Hampshire economy is holding up well. Starting a successful business and sustaining it is a difficult task, but recent surveys have shown that local organisations have continued to perform strongly and successfully. SMEs are making the most of opportunities and growing their businesses. The Sunday Times Fast Track 100 league table ranks UK firms by sales growth. The average sales growth amongst this year’s firms was 85%, and the group contained a substantial number of Hampshire-based businesses.
Introducing the new wave of Technology
Portsmouth-based company Vadition source security, networking and data-storage technology from America’s Silicon Valley, which it then sells to banks, television production companies and life-sciences groups via resellers. It was the third fastest growing private UK company in 2010 and this year, the company announced its acquisition of Exclusive Network group. The deal will add important drive to the business and the collaboration means that the breadth of offering is preeminent in the UK and gives them a significant advantage within the marketplace.
Looking after the MAMILS
Portsmouth company Wiggle, sells sports products online to more than 70 countries. The business launched in 1999 in humble surroundings, selling a range of cycle accessories from the back of a cycle shop in the city. The rise in the popularity of cycling, especially among “MAMILS” (middle aged men in lycra!) added significant momentum to the business. By 2006, Wiggle was offered a deal with equity investor ISIS and HSBC had invested in an £11.5 million “cash out” deal. Through negotiation, company founders were able to maintain a controlling stake in the business and they continue to manage the company today. The company attribute their success to the breadth of their product offering, promoting a range of about 15,000 products, including bikes and cycling accessories, as well as running and swimming gear. Wiggle has now achieved sales of £55m across 70 different countries in 2009 – 2010.
Water with added Intelligence
Southampton-based i20 Water is an example of a successful ‘green company’ that last year won the Bond Pearce award for Technology and Innovation. Their success is founded on their ability to identify a serious environmental problem and successfully develop a solution that will make a valuable contribution to the problem. i20 responded to claims by the UN that by 2025, two thirds of the world’s population will have insufficient water. In response, i20 created a solution to the world’s big leakage problem – an integrated system that minimises leakage and burst frequency by remotely, automatically and intelligently optimising pressures in the distribution network. i2O has now installed technology for water companies all over the world, achieving impressive leakage savings and helping to save money. In 2011, i20 water was also named joint winner in the Innovation and Technology category at the 2011 Test Valley Business Awards.
So what’s next for Hampshire business?
Recently Hampshire-based entrepreneur Jenna Rayner and business partner Sam Charles won a competition run by Duncan Bannatyne’s creative agency, Bannatyne Digital, which encouraged young entrepreneurs to pitch their inventions via online video website YouTube. The pair sent in a video to promote their company,”Freckles and Gilbert”, which sells quirky and colourful cases for laptops, iPads and Kindles. The pair demonstrated the importance of strongbranding for SMEs. Bannatyne Digital rewarded the pair with a prize of £10,000 design and the creation of a company website.
There is no better time to start your business or expand your current one in Hampshire. Currently, there is plenty of support for businesses in the Hampshire area. Schemes, such as ‘Brand New Forest’, are also successfully improving local trade. This programme is designed to help local businesses become smarter, greener, more efficient and better able to access the support available to them. The Hampshire Ambassadors scheme, run by Hampshire County Council and now in its fifteenth year, also aims to stimulate investment and encourage business development in the county. In addition, despite the recent financial crisis, results from a recent survey show that 98% of private equity investors believe now is the right time to take risks and invest. Over the coming years, Hampshire businesses will play a key role in delivering the growth and momentum to help drive Britain’s economy forward.