Along the way, we have uncovered tales of export and growth, innovation and leadership.
For Andy Grove, LDC director, the thinking behind the tour is about celebrating the achievements of smaller firms that don’t always get the recognition they deserve: “Their contribution is often overlooked. So the idea was to shine a light on their success stories – the well-kept secrets across Britain quietly going about their business in their own brilliant way.
“It’s often said uncertainty is the enemy of business. That’s what made this year’s initiative so important. Here is a collection of management teams that are each doing incredible things – innovating, building exports and creating winning teams. What better antidote to uncertainty and what better place for the 2017 Backing Business Ambition tour to culminate than the Festival of Business?”
We have profiled more than 40 companies over the last six months, with their leaders sharing the secrets of their success and the roots of their ambition. We have met many firms excelling in their respective spheres.
ZeroLight, which creates virtual reality technology for the automotive industry, is putting innovation at the heart of its business. Founder Darren Jobling says most of its 75 staff are devoted to research and development.
Similarly, Wales-based drinks brand Radnor Hills has continued to innovate its range, expanding beyond traditional bottled water products and introducing variants to stay ahead. “Now water is only 20pc of the business,” says William Watkins, a fifth-generation member of the family business. It now has a portfolio of flavoured waters, presses and juices.
Elsewhere, Teddington-based KMI Brands has been creating gift and beauty products for fashion houses such as Ted Baker and Orla Kiely since the early 1990s. After focusing solely on UK customers, it is about to embark on an international growth strategy. “In 2015, less than 2pc of the business was international,” says MD Rachel Parsonage. “This year, we may generate 20pc of sales from markets around the world.”
Technology firm Mercato, which works with clients such as IBM to modernise old-fashioned processes and bring them online, is another excelling overseas. It has tapped into global demand and is generating 40pc of its revenues from exports.
“This is precisely the kind of ambition we need more of, right across the economy,” adds Andy Grove.
The tour also highlights management teams that we have backed, with each one explaining how private equity has helped to turbo-charge their growth.
Nigel Wilson, managing director of Mini-Cam adds, “LDC’s strategic support and financial backing throughout our partnership has helped us grow the business, both at home and overseas. With the team’s help, we’ve been able to continually invest in our operations, increasing production and service levels.”
With £1.2bn of equity to invest in British businesses over the next three years, we are keen to showcase how private equity can be a catalyst for growth.
Andy Grove concludes: “Our message to business is simple: ambition and partnership is a powerful combination that can unlock growth.”Festival of Business