The UK economy may still be on life support, but our enterprise culture seems to be thriving nonetheless. MT's seventh annual survey of Britain's Top 100 Entrepreneurs, produced by Rich List compiler Philip Beresford, shows that some parts of UK plc are still making money and creating jobs. That’s particularly true of the oil business, from which no fewer than four of this year's top 10 are drawn – including our number one, Ayman Asfari. The Petrofac boss may not have the public profile of a Branson or a Dyson, but the Syrian-born entrepreneur is putting in a world-class performance in a crucial industry.
Since joining the (then US) group in 1991, Asfari has turned Petrofac from a small domestic outfit into one of the leading oil services groups in the world, with a strong North Sea presence and huge Middle Eastern business, courtesy of Asfari's impeccable contacts there. And he’s not the only oil man in this year’s top ten. Our number two, Richard Higham, has done wonders at Norwich-based Acteon (which provides the oil and gas industry with technology for linking the seabed to the surface), while Aidan Heavey of Tullow Oil (in fourth place) has also had a good year, with lucrative oil discoveries in Uganda and Ghana. Sir Ian Wood of the Wood Group, the person credited with making Aberdeen the capital of the North Sea oil business, completes the quartet in sixth.
Meanwhile, further down the list, Britain’s fashionistas are also still blazing a trail, with Net-a-Porter’s Natalie Massenet leading the way in third. Together with Carly Read of Icon Live (24th), The White Company’s Chrissie Rucker (27th) and LK Bennett founder Linda Bennett (62nd), this sector accounts for half of the eight women on the final list.
In the second of our Top 100 lists to be published in the teeth of recession, it’s heartening to see that these British firms are not only holding their own, but continuing to create economic activity and jobs. In the last five years, the collective turnover of these 100 companies has jumped 122% to £25bn, while their total headcount has risen by 53% to 138,000. Some have been forced to make cutbacks in the recession, but their contribution to UK plc is clear for all to see.
You can read our exclusive feature ‘Petrofac’s High-Octane Champion’ online now, or click here for the full list of Britain’s Top 100 Entrepreneurs.
In today's bulletin:
Britain's Top 100 Entrepreneurs 2010: Petrofac's Ayman Asfari rises to the top
Nestle linked with Cadbury amid rumours of higher Kraft bid
'Puerile' Ryanair starts 2010 as it means to go on
Civil servants earn 7% more than private sector workers
The MT Prize Quiz 2009: 12 months, 12 questions