By Daniel Hunter

Despite continued turmoil in the stock markets, the worst recession in 60 years and a faltering eurozone, there are currently 4000 small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) demonstrating high levels of growth across the UK, according to Experian research commissioned by Business Growth Fund (BGF).

These 'high growth' companies - all with turnovers of between £2.5m and £100m - have each expanded by at least 33 per cent in the last three years and demonstrate the underlying resilience of UK entrepreneurism.

The BGF Growth Companies Barometer identifies a total of 25,533 UK companies with turnovers of £2.5m - £100m. Of these, 16% are categorised as high growth.

The highest proportion of these high growth companies is located in London and the South East. However the BGF Barometer highlights that fast growing companies can be found in a diverse range of industries and across all regions of the UK.

“This data highlights that despite challenging market conditions, there is a steady base of UK SMEs and fast growing UK companies that continue to thrive across the UK and that operate in diverse industry sectors," Stephen Welton, CEO of BGF, said.

"It demonstrates the resilience of the group and the underlying quality of UK entrepreneurship. This is good news for the overall UK economy as these companies play a significant role in job creation and innovation and are a critical part of the economic recovery.

“As growth capital investors in high growth companies, we are encouraged by the fact that there is a clear addressable market. However we are also mindful that there is room for improvement. The question for us is how to expand the number of high growth companies and help those that are already demonstrating that level of growth move further, faster?

“The last two years have seen in the region of 70 investments of growth capital made into UK companies of this nature. Clearly there is scope for much more and we would certainly hope to make about 25 investments this year, and 30-40 investments per year in the longer term.

“In commissioning this data our aim is to create a new and additional measure of economic performance of mid-sized SMEs. Our hope is that over time it may even become aspirational for business owners and entrepreneurs as a way for them to measure and benchmark their own performance. We will wait with interest to see how the data changes over the coming months and years.”

Key findings of the BGF Growth Companies Barometer include:

- Since 2000, the population of UK companies with a turnover of between £2.5m and £100m has consistently been around 23,000-25,000.

- This population is skewed to London and the South East with 8626 and 4332 companies respectively residing in this region. Wales and the North East of England show the lowest number of companies with this level of turnover.

- Since 2000, there has been a gradual shift in the sectors that these companies operate in, moving away from Manufacturing towards Business Services. The highest proportion of companies in the BGF Barometer come from the Business Services sector 5794, followed by Manufacturing 4982 and Retail 2891.

- Of this population, 4110 UK companies have demonstrated high growth, which equates to an aggregate growth of at least 33 per cent in the last three years. his is 16% of the overall sample of SMEs.

- In line with economic conditions, this number has decreased from 6660 three years ago.

- Of the high growth companies identified, those with turnovers of between £2.5m - £10m performed most strongly. 52% of the high growth segment (2155 companies) had turnovers of less than £10m.

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