The power of ambition: How East Midlands business leaders are driving growth

David Bains

David Bains, Partner at LDC, celebrates the entrepreneurs at the heart of the East Midlands economy and invites them to enter the LDC Top 50 Most Ambitious Leaders programme for 2024.

Ambition is a vital ingredient of business success and, here in the East Midlands, we have no shortage of ambitious management teams to celebrate.

Our region is one of the best places in the country to do business, with diverse strengths and excellence across different sectors, from business and professional services to retail and manufacturing. We saw new technology business incorporations in the region rise by a fifth last year, according to RSM UK, and boast a leading centre for the UK’s fast-growing space industry at Space Park Leicester. The recent news that Nike has signed a 20-year lease to create a UK logistics centre and national supply chain hub at Magna Park Corby is also a further sign of confidence in the region,

Businesses in the East Midlands continue to face into a complex and fast-moving economic environment. But, despite this, we’re seeing firsthand how they continue to press ahead with their growth plans with the same determination we’ve been supporting in the region for more than 40 years.

Driving this is an army of entrepreneurs that deserve to be celebrated. That’s why, for the seventh year running, we’ve launched our annual search to find the UK’s most outstanding business leaders.

The LDC Top 50 Most Ambitious Business Leaders 2024 will champion those who demonstrate remarkable ambition within their own companies and the communities in which they live and work.

Whether they’re focused on creating jobs, promoting social equality, championing sustainability, expanding internationally, or integrating purpose into their business practices, for us, it’s about recognising those who are pushing for growth and making a real impact on the companies they lead.

We’ve invested £450m in 23 businesses across the East Midlands and East of England since 2012, and know there are countless entrepreneurs with outstanding leadership qualities right here on our doorstep.

The East Midlands’ most ambitious

Last year, an incredible seven East Midlands-based business leaders were celebrated in the LDC Top 50, while a further three featured as Ones to Watch.

The International Growth Award went to Mark Copley of Nottingham-based Copley Scientific, recognising the leader’s success in overseas expansion. Under his stewardship, the 30-stong Copley Scientific team has made major investments in its manufacturing capabilities to develop new products in recent years and now exports around 90% of goods to markets across the globe.

Also flying the flag for the region were Rob Darby of 200 Degrees Coffee, a company that donates at least £10,000 a year to Switch Up, an initiative in Nottingham that supports at-risk youths; Sean Reddington, who is behind Nottingham-based online learning platform Thrive; Rob Carlin, of Chesterfield-based Superior Wellness, which sells around 20,000 hot tubs a year worldwide; Mark Davison of Grant Instruments, who is future proofing the 72-year old maker of precision instruments; and Adam Pye of John Pye & Sons, the auction house that has grown to employ more than 700 people across the UK and Spain.

We also recently caught up with Jake Karia, founder of Leicester-headquartered Jake & Nayns’, following his inclusion in the LDC Top 50 in 2020. His street food brand continues to go from strength to strength and today Jake & Nayns’ is available nationwide in the likes of Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Boots. It’s become a household name and is selling more than 100,000 products a week.

The drive and determination that these entrepreneurs embody is inspiring. But it doesn’t stop there. My sense is that leaders like them – those who seize opportunities to strike out and lean into the challenges of today – can flourish even further to lead the world-class businesses of tomorrow, provided they can access the right capital and support to drive their ambitions.

And it’s this ambition that we want to recognise.

This year’s awards will of course include The UK’s Most Ambitious Business Leader for 2024 – the standout individual who showcases the leadership qualities needed in business today, but there are also wider individual categories for people, sustainability and international ambition.

The East Midlands has a wealth of agile and resilient entrepreneurs – and we want to hear from them. Nominations for this year’s programme close on Friday 24th May, so there’s still plenty of time to get involved.

More information on how to nominate can be found here.

David Bains is Partner and Head of the East Midlands and East of England at LDC

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