By Roger Aitken — The London Stock Exchange’s latest annual ‘1,000 Companies To Inspire Britain’, has, for the first time, profiled in detail some of the enterprises within the green and sustainable segment that made the cut in this year’s study. Between them, these dozen firms among the thousand listed generated around £500 million of revenues last year and are investing further to develop their businesses.
The 150-page publication, just published by the LSE, the world’s second-largest financial market by number of companies listed, is the fourth edition of their annual since 2013. It identifies the United Kingdom’s most dynamic small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and high growth potential companies and regions.
In essence, and according to Xavier Rolet, CEO of the London Stock Exchange Group, writing in a foreword to the report, it highlights “the best of British small business”. Mr Rolet added: “Combined with the fact that the UK created a record number of 650,000 start-up firms in 2016, this report starkly illustrates the economic potential of the UK’s SME’s.”
The report, which was based on data crunched by financial technology company DueDil (for the third-year running), gives a platform to firms growing at “70% on average” and requires these firms to have out-performed their sectors.
Companies have to be registered and active in the UK (companies whose parent is incorporated in a foreign country are excluded, except for specific tax shelters), since before November 2012, and had to have revenues in the range of £6m to £250m based on their latest Companies House filings.
In Scotland, where a total of 41 companies are represented in the list, with the average annual growth there being 91% over the period 2012-2016, it was revealed that the proportion of UK onshore wind energy generated in the region stands at 60%.
From recycling to electric vehicles and green bonds, a growing number of UK businesses are meeting rising consumer demand for environmentally friendly products and business practices.
Indeed, reflecting this trend, it has been estimated that there are 96,500 low-carbon and renewable energy businesses in the UK, which generate a total annual turnover of £46.2bn.
While green/sustainable companies have been included in all four editions of the report since 2013, the latest edition marks the first time the exchange has profiled some in detail.
Companies categorized ‘green’ in the 1,000 Companies report include entities in the automotive, building materials, engineering and manufacturing, financial services, food & beverage and waste management sectors.
An LSE spokesperson revealed that the whole exercise to produce the report took around six months, and that the green segment presented is not a definitive list, given that some companies in other sectors may have an element in their businesses pursuing green activities
Highlighting the exchange’s green credentials, the LSE to date has 39 green bonds listed in London, which have raised a total of around $10bn.
POD Point, located in London, generates revenues in the £6m-£10m range and is building a national network in the UK of vehicle-charging points to facilitate mass adoption of electric vehicles. Thus far, the company has supplied over 27,000 charging points, which have been placed in businesses, people’s homes and a variety of public places.
Erik Fairbairn, CEO and founder of POD Point, commented: “We’re only just beginning and think that the UK will need over one million charge points by 2020. The mass adoption of electric vehicles is going to be transformational for our business.”
Fairbairn further revealed the company is “doubling staff” each year and see that continuing for the foreseeable future. While electric vehicles currently account c.1.5% of all new cars sold in the UK, POD Point forecasts that this figure will rise to around 10% by 2020 and 95% by 2030.
Good Energy, based in the South West of England with annual turnover in the range of £50m to £75m today, is one of the UK’s 100% renewable electricity supplier-and-generator companies.
The firm, which is described as helping to transform the UK energy market into one that is far more sustainable, sells electricity to businesses and homes from over 1,000 renewable energy sites, including wind farms in Cornwall and Yorkshire and a solar park in Dorset.
All the electricity they provide is derived from harnessing local, natural sources like sunshine, wind, rain and biofuels. It has furthermore invested in a tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay and recently started a peer-to-peer energy trading platform for businesses.
Juliet Davenport, CEO of Good Energy who founded the business in 1999, commenting stated: “We have been well placed to capitalize on increased consumer awareness of competition and customers moving away from the big, old-fashioned energy companies.”
She added: “Many are looking for a supplier they can trust with good service and the opportunity to buy 100% renewable electricity. And, the consumer trend towards ethical companies and businesses with a purpose also makes us attractive.”
While there are plenty of firms offering renewable energy these days, Ecotricity, whose growing fleet of wind and sun parks generate energy for almost 200,000 UK customers, can say it has been there from the very beginning. Founded in 1995 by Dale Vince, the South West of England based firm claims to be the world’s first-green energy company. Today, its annual revenues are in the £100m-£150m range.
“We focus on sustainability, particularly across the three biggest sources of carbon emissions, transport and food,” stated Vince.
Recently the company has been expanding in the transport sector by taking advantage of progress with electric vehicles. On this score they have built their own electric super car, the Nemesis, to show how cars without oil could look and feel.
They have since also built the Electric Highway with around 300 electricity pumps—touted as “Europe’s most comprehensive charging network— allowing vehicles to travel the length and breadth of Britain,” Vince noted. Last October, the company was granted permission to build their first green gas mill in Hampshire.
“The coming years will be all about technology enabling a very different type of energy grid,” Vince stated. “We are moving towards people making their own power at home. The old top-down model is dead.”
Ecotricity plan to continue expanding the number of charging sites to meet growing demand from electric car owners. They have eyed other opportunities too including innovation in the water sector and are committed to making ‘green’ gas from grass.
Other companies listed in the green segment making the list for 2017 include firms operating in the waste management, electronic manufacturing, engineering and construction, financial Services wholesale, food & beverage, building materials and wholesale - with annual revenues from £10m-£20m right up to £100m-£150m (London-based Fern Trading, a financial services firm).
They include Biogen (£20m-£30m annual revenue, London based); Chargemaster Plc (£10m-£20m revenues, East of England); Evo Green (6m-£10m revenues, East of England); First Mile (£10m-£20m revenues, London); Forest Fuels (£6m-£10m, SW England); Greencroft Bottling (£40m-£50m, North East England); Natural World Products (£20m-£30m, Northern Ireland); and, Summerleaze (£20m-£30m, South of England).