Midlands businesses named amongst UK’s best for international sales growth

Stuart Hateley, managing director, Grayson Thermal Systems

A firm making vacuum cleaners and a jeweller which counts European royalty and Chinese entrepreneurs amongst its customers have both been named in a list of the Midlands’ firms with the fastest growing international sales.

Published this weekend, the eighth annual Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 ranks Britain’s mid-market private companies for their overseas sales success.

This year’s list includes 20 companies headquartered in the Midlands, which is an improvement on the 17 named last year.

Of the companies named, 11 are new entrants to the league table.

In total, the 20 companies have seen international sales grow by an average of 47% a year over the last two years to a total of £211m, and together they now employ more than 6,200 people.

The new entrants include Worcester-based Gtech, which makes appliances including vacuum cleaners, cordless garden tools and electric bicycles. It has sold more than 22 million domestic appliances in 19 countries and exports grew to £5m last year.

Stratford-upon-Avon-based George Pragnell features for the second time. World-famous artists, Chinese entrepreneurs and European royalty have all bought jewellery from the family firm, which was established in 1954. International sales reached £15.3m last year.

Also named in the table is Birmingham-based automotive technology supplier, Grayson Thermal Systems.

The company, which manufactures cooling, heating and air conditioning systems, has seen a 42% rise in its international sales over the past two years.

Grayson, which employs 270 people across four sites in the West Midlands and a US operation in Indiana, is hoping the launch of its first new product of 2017 will see it sustain its strong performance.

It is expecting more than £2m of orders from customers in the global bus and coach sector for its new 24-volt electric water pump.

Ian Hateley, technical director at the firm, said: “This is a very exciting product introduction for our business and builds on more than 50,000 high-performing water pumps that we have supplied into the marketplace to date.”

Charles faram, based in Malvern, supplies hops to brewers in 47 countries, while Northants-based Dalepak owes much of its success to the automotive sector.

Ahead of the Brexit negotiations, the league table is said to reflect the importance of Europe to Britain’s mid-market exporters. Almost 85% of the companies (167) sell to the continent, which is the most popular market. This is followed by North America (112) and Asia (75).

The table, sponsored by HSBC and DHL Express, is compiled by Fast Track, the Oxford-based research and networking events firm.

Amanda Murphy, UK head of commercial banking at HSBC, said: “This year’s Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 is testament to the exciting opportunities available to ambitious UK businesses with appetite to grow their goods and services abroad.

“The 20 companies in the Midlands are putting the region firmly on the map as a thriving business hub. We work very closely with our business customers to help them achieve their goals, so it makes me immensely proud to see so many of them succeed.”

The Midlands table in full

HQ Rank (2016) Company Annual International Sales Growth over two years International Sales (£m) Total Sales (£m) Staff Year End Comment
Birmingham 10 ITG (Marketing technology provider) 138% 9.4 84.3 456 Aug 16 Manages marketing operations in more than 120 countries
Northampton 43 Dalepak (Logistics services provider) 74% 10.9 34.1 223 Mar 16 Sources and assembles after-sales kits for Ford in Germany and Canada
Sutton-in-Ashfield 44 (47) Whitemeadow Furniture (Furniture manufacturer) 74% 2.0 36.1 338 Dec 15 Supplies Irish furniture retailers with handcrafted upholstered furniture
Nottingham 47 Microlose (Vehicle tracking developer) 73% 4.3 41.2 347 Jun 16 Is setting up operations in Dubai to add to offices in India and Australia
Solihull 53 Peers Hardy group (Watch designer and distributor) 70% 13.9 34.9 115 Dec 16 Its Henry London brand – launched in 2015 – is now exported to 70 countries including Japan
Market Harborough 56 NMS International Group (Construction contractor) 69% 30.6 30.6 27 Apr 16 Is managing a £135m hospital infrastructure project in Ghana
Stratford-upon-Avon 68 (67) George Pragnell (Fine jeweller) 60% 15.3 31.6 68 May 16 Customers include European royalty and Chinese entrepreneurs
Newcastle-under-Lyme 79 (149) KMF (Precision sheet metal engineer) 50% 4.9 33.1 463 Mar 16 Manufactures sheet metal for customers in Europe and North America
Birmingham 96 Grayson Thermal Systems (Automotive technology provider) 42% 4.4 25.5 258 Mar 16 Has a manufacturing facility in Indiana to serve US customers
Telford 115 Evolution Foods (Health foods retailer) 36% 2.7 41.8 116 Jun 16 Exports its packs of dried fruits, nuts and healthy snacks to Europe
Malvern 118 (117) Charles Faram (Hop merchant) 36% 13.2 34.1 43 Jun 16 Exports hops to brewers in 47 countries
Birmingham 124 (63) Connect Distribution Services (Appliance parts distributor) 35% 6.2 97.6 585 Apr 16 Operates multiple spare parts ordering websites in Europe
Chesterfield 129 eBECS (Business software developer) 33% 7.3 33.1 297 Mar 16 International clients include Marc Jacobs, AMEC and Britax
Studley 148 CVP (Audio-visual equipment supplier) 29% 12.5 71.2 113 May 16 Sells broadcast equipment to Europe, US, the Far East and Africa
Dudley 154 Boss Design Group (Office furniture manufacturer) 27% 11.2 42.0 252 Mar 16 Manufactures on four continents and supplies more than 30 countries
Worcester 159 Gtech (Appliance manufacturer) 26% 5.0 91.2 138 Nov 16 Has sold more than 22m domestic appliances in 19 countries
Shrewsbury 166 Morris & Co (Conglomerate) 24% 3.6 47.9 693 Mar 16 Exports lighting towers, operating at temperature extremes to 20 countries
Leicester 184 (150) Nylacast (Plastics engineer) 20% 29.3 35.0 460 Dec 16 Exports to 49 countries, with China as a key market
Coventry 191 Nasmyth Group (Precision component manufacturer) 18% 14.7 60.1 779 Jan 16 Has operations in France, the US and India to supply the local aerospace industries
Kettering 195 Knights of Old (Logistics services provider) 17% 9.9 52.3 467 May 16 Is a partner in a 500-strong network of European logistics companies