Wilson Partners, along with Herrington Carmichael solicitors and sponsored The first Thames Valley SME 100 Growth Index event took place at wine merchant Laithwaite’s showroom in Theale, and organised by The Business Magazine.
The evening was all in recognition of some of the Thames Valley’s high achieving SMEs and was beautifully complemented by a wine-tasting at one of the countries leading businesses, Laithwaites along with a highly entertaining lesson in great customer service.
The newly launched Index is compiled by The Business Magazine and lists the region’s top 100 SMEs with turnover between £2m and £12m that have grown significantly in the past year, with over 40 guests attending.
As well as tasting some of the company’s wines, guests heard Tom Laithwaite recount how his father built up the business by selling Bordeaux wine direct to the public from a railway arch lock-up in Windsor to become a global enterprise with 800,000 customers worldwide.
“We celebrate our 50th anniversary this year and are still wholly family owned,” he said. “Our ethos is doing things beautifully and making the right decisions for the right reasons.”
A Sunday Times exposé in 1972 of underhand practices by some wine merchants prompted Tony Laithwaite to write to the newspaper explaining that merchants like him sourced products directly from vineyards to offer customers genuine quality wines.
From this, the Sunday Times Wine Club was born and Laithwaite’s business took off. Today, it operates wine clubs in the UK, US and Australia, and owns vineyards in France, Australia and Windsor Great Park.
Good customer service ensures a loyal customer base. “Our wine advisers build close relationships with every customer so they can offer them wines they will want to buy based on their preferences,” said Tom Laithwaite.
SME under £9m turnover
Validus Risk Management
And the winner is… Rotolight
A family founded and run SME based at Pinewood, this SME has been a disruptor in lighting for the film and photographic industry. The company has averaged 68% growth over the last three years and having now raised over £5m in funding it is well equipped to continue to build its impressive business in both Europe and the US.
SME over £9m turnover
Constantine Wind Energy
Payen (formerly Trustpay Global)
And the winner is… Payen
A company who since 2010 had the objective of making it easier to maximise eCommerce sales revenues and conversion rates by reducing the number of transactions that are abandoned at checkout. The technology is built in-house to world-class standards and it is scalable, secure and robust. They have invested significant resources to ensure the platform will support the biggest online businesses in the world.
Growing the Workforce
And the winner is… Semafone
This company with 110 employees has maintained a family culture within leading edge facilities with a flexible approach to employment. It provides contact centres with secure voice transaction software. They work with universities to find their employees of the future. They believe their Guildford location allows them to recruit the very best of talent from the surrounding areas and beyond.
“People are absolutely vital to our business, particularly in the dynamics between departments. We have a range of people from a variety of backgrounds. Having the university here in Guildford means we take on a lot of graduates. As we grow from a small business our HR team is working on maintaining the family feel. One way we do that is the open door policy of the CEO and all our managers, so anyone can approach them.”
Will Mehta, channel manager, Semafone
Best Management Team
Active Workplace Solutions
And the winner is… E3D-Online
Based in Chalgrove, this management team is focused on building one of the UK’s leading technology businesses with not only a market leading product but its employees at the heart of its strategy. The judges felt that they demonstrated not only entrepreneurial vision and passion but also a very structured and strategic approach to growing their business and motivating their workforce.
“We have grown very quickly from three guys working in a bedroom to about 60 people. We try to enable our staff to be happy, fulfilled and enjoy an environment that is communicative, collaborative and centred on teamwork. As we have grown we have taken active steps to structure the company, organise people and introduce better management processes that will take us to the next level. The management side is exciting – I love working with our people, who all want to keep the company moving forward.”
Joshua Rowley, director and co-founder, E3D-Online
Tech Company of the Year
Validus Risk Management
And the winner is… Redbox Mobile
Born in February 2013 and now a leading app store optimisation and search advert agency with offices in Hungerford, London and New York. They have won and successfully managed accounts for over 50 major brands. They deliver every aspect of App Store Optimisation (ASO) and pay per click via a team built around established industry experts and young talent.
“I’m massively delighted. Everyone said we would never be able to build a technology team in the Thames Valley. We have, and it is here in Hungerford. We’re now taking our technology to Silicon Valley, where we are planning to open an office in San Francisco. Our two biggest suppliers are Google and Apple, and this is a really new market with products going live in the last couple of months. Every company that has an app can get them to do more.”
Rory Mudie, CEO, Redbox Mobile
One to Watch
Validus Risk Management
GSR Technology Europe
And the winner is… Validus Risk Management
Founded in Windsor in 2010 as a specialist in risk management advisory, this Thames Valley-based SME has demonstrated strong and consistent growth since its inception. Having built a market leading software platform, they are highly valued by their loyal customer base. The judges were particularly impressed by their ambitious and innovative approach – they continue to launch new products and solutions and are now expanding the business internationally in both the US and Asia.
“We’re very pleased to win this award because it recognises our positioning and the aggressive expansion plans we have for the future. Developing our own software is a key differentiating factor and gives us a strong competitive advantage. It means we can hire highly talented people to operate our systems who feel comfortable with the software. We are FCA-regulated, so clients trust our technology and our people.”
Constantinos Tsolakas, partner and CFO, Validus Risk Management