About Growth Index
The definitive ranking of the UK’s fastest growing businesses.
Growth Index is the list of the top 100 fastest-growing UK businesses, determined through in-depth impartial analysis of financial evidence over the past two years- but if you think it is simply a list, think again. Growth Index features analytical breakdowns of what the trends in growth reveal about the landscape of UK business in terms of opportunities and impact, as well as sustainability and diversity.
Where is growth happening?
The premise behind the government’s levelling up agenda is that, for far too long, economic opportunity and prosperity have been concentrated in London and the South East, leaving other regions to languish.
Our analysis of the fastest-growing UK companies reveals just how stark these regional differences are. Of the UK’s 100 most dynamic, rapidly expanding firms, 47 are based in London, with a further 23 in the South East and East of England, between them representing 81% of total sales*. This is despite these areas containing just 35% of the UK population.
Even more startling is the fact that only two of the top 100 are based outside of England, with one in Scotland, one in Wales and none in Northern Ireland, which perhaps reflects the particularly acute impact of Brexit uncertainty and disruption on the economy there since 2016.
This matters because it is rapidly growing businesses that both respond to and create opportunity, so if post-industrial regions are no longer to be left behind, they need such businesses to spring up or relocate there.
What might be behind the dominance of London and the South East, and what could we expect to see in coming years? We break this down in detail in the full report.
Growth Index by Numbers
Size of companies by turnover
Total sales for
Growth Index companies:
Largest company on list:
The UK’s Growth Leaders: At a Glance
A DIVERSE BUNCH
You may think that 17% isn’t much, and it’s true that female representation at the top of the Growth Index is far from equal. Yet it’s still significantly better than the 8.2% of Fortune 500 CEOs who are female, the 8% of FTSE 100 CEOs and the 4% of FTSE 250 CEOs.
The implication is that, while there is still a long way to go, progress towards gender parity has been greater in high-growth companies, which are also generally smaller and always nimbler, than among the publicly-listed giants. Similarly, representation of business people with diverse racial heritage among Growth Index chief executives (17%) is not only far ahead of the largest listed companies (a 2020 Spencer Stuart analysis of the top 150 plcs found only 4% of CEOs are from diverse heritage), but also higher proportionately than the general population (14%).
Do you need a degree to become the CEO of one of the UK’s fastest-growing businesses? Not necessarily. More than three in ten (31%) of our Growth Index CEOs didn’t attend university.
The proportion of graduates was higher than in the general adult population (42%, according to ONS figures from 2017) but much lower than the 97% of FTSE 100 CEOs who attended university**.
It seems to confirm the trope that academic success is less relevant for entrepreneurs than for corporate business people. Nonetheless, it very much depends on the sector. Nine in ten of our fintech leaders are graduates, for example, with two having PhDs. For healthcare, it’s 11 in 12, with three having PhDs.
On the other hand, only half of Growth Index construction bosses went to university, and 44% of utilities CEOs. For retail it’s 75%, which is perhaps surprisingly higher than tech, where 68% are graduates.
*Our 100 company leaders, not all of whom have the CEO title **Heidrick & Struggles Route to The Top, 2017
Shailen Jasani’s veterinary referral hospital, The Ralph, focuses on three key elements – core values, culture and mission – which have helped propel it to become Britain’s fastest-growing company over the past two years.
Jasani, who started his career as a vet before specialising in emergency and critical pet care, wanted to offer patients something different when he opened The Ralph hospital, based in Buckinghamshire, in February 2019.
“I did not embark on The Ralph journey because of a long-held desire to run a large referral centre,” he says. “I did so because of the belief that it was possible to create a hospital which, at its core, would be a little different from what I had known. To build an independent hospital with a focus on core values, culture and mission.”