Achieving businesses add to positive feeling
All indications are that the UK economy has turned a corner meaning that the long-awaited uplift should start to kick in this year.
The Bank of England recently announced that it had upgraded its growth forecast for the UK economy, with third-quarter growth expected to be 0.7%, up from the 0.5% forecast in August's Inflation Report.
The UK's upward momentum during 2013 has also prompted the OECD to increase its growth forecast for this year to 1.5% from an earlier estimate of 0.8%.
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In addition, a range of surveys have suggested that there is a growing feeling of positive economic momentum, with business confidence at a higher level than it has been at for some time.
No one is saying there will be anything like a return to boom times, for now, but news of a markedly more positive economic outlook has given a welcome boost to a nation that is sick and tired of the economic doldrums.
As ever, the businesses to feature on the Fast Growth 75 list offer more good news. Representing a range of sectors and hailing from all parts of the Westcountry, the businesses have all achieved sustained growth over the last four years.
This is the fifth time that the Western Morning News has published the Fast Growth 75 supplement, supported again by sponsors KPMG, Foot Anstey and Lloyds TSB who are all committed to helping the region's business base to grow.
Topping the list for the first time is Newton Abbot-based online sporting goods supplier Pro Direct, which recorded growth rates of an impressive 85%. With 174 employees and a turnover of £36.2 million, the business sells a range of sports goods, with separate websites for each sport offering consumers a choice of leading brands in a single location.
The Fast Growth 75 list has been researched and produced by KPMG, using Bureau van Dijk's FAME database.
To be included in the list, companies needed to have a registered office and to operate from Devon or Cornwall; have a turnover greater than £100,000 in the first of the four years' accounts reviewed and more than £1 million in the latest year; and have a consistent reporting structure throughout the four years.
In instances where there were multiple companies from the same group, a representative company was chosen.
All the companies that met these criteria were then ranked by mean sales growth over the four-year period to arrive at the final list of 75.
Ian Brokenshire, office senior partner at KPMG in Plymouth, said: "All of these businesses have put in a stellar performance to secure the accolade of being the fastest growing companies in the South West. They have grown in the face of significant economic challenges and are now well placed to seize the opportunities that a slow and steady recovery may throw their way."
Foot Anstey partner Chris Worrell said: "Congratulations to all those businesses listed – they have shown resilience in a challenging economy. We all hope that a more favourable economic environment is ahead of us and these businesses should be well placed to take advantage of any opportunities that this brings."
Andrew Wilton, relationship director for Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, in Plymouth, said: "The South West is an important geography for Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, with a wealth of successful and growing businesses showcased in this year's Fast Growth 75 that run significant operations here. This supplement recognises the continued success of these businesses, as key contributors to the UK's economic recovery and as local employers."
This year, for the first time, the Fast Growth 75 supplement includes a list of the companies that almost made it onto the list – and who may well appear in future years if they are able to maintain their growth rates.