Telegraph Media Group

  • Allister Heath, Telegraph Media Group

    “A diverse group of companies – from wholesalers to manufacturers, from retailers to exporters – here is the cream of the crop of Britain’s high-growth small business sector”

Media partner foreword

The financial crisis created many challenges for the business world, not least the impact it had on the funding of small and medium-sized businesses. Where once commercial banks were only too happy to back promising start-ups and family-run companies, so it was that the credit crunch sapped the lifeblood out of the sector.

But one of the notable facets of SMEs is their resilience in times of trouble. It should have been the case that with traditional forms of financing cut off, many small businesses withered on the vine.

As you can see from the many enlightening case studies in the pages of this report, however, nothing could be further from the truth. The companies featured are a testament to that resilience and sheer mindedness that the UK’s entrepreneurs have in spades.

A diverse group of companies – from wholesalers to manufacturers, from retailers to exporters – here is the cream of the crop of Britain’s high-growth small business sector; a crop which we are rightly celebrating.

The Telegraph has a long and proud history of reporting on and engaging with the companies in this sector, and, just as importantly, the entrepreneurs behind them. Although much of the reporting we and the rest of the media have engaged in since the crisis has focused on financial institutions and economies in crisis, it has often been from the SME world that the stories have been most memorable.

Success stories such as Julie Deane’s Cambridge Satchel Company (CSC) provide hope for all those entrepreneurs starting out with just an idea and a small amount of capital. Deane started the iconic British handbag company in 2007 with just £600. She began making leather satchels for the school children of Cambridge as a way to make enough money to move her eight-year-old daughter to a school where she wouldn’t be bullied. Today the business employs more than 100 people, exports to more than 120 countries, and recently received £13.5m of backing from a venture capital investor.

It is through reports such as this, and other events such as the annual Telegraph Festival of Business, that we celebrate fast-growing companies, and their founders. I am sure you will join with me in congratulating all those who feature within this fascinating report, and hope that you enjoy, as much as I have, reading about their success.

Allister Heath, Deputy Director of Content and Deputy Editor, Telegraph Media Group