Victoria Beckham heads Britain's Top 100 Entrepreneurs 2014

The fashion designer formerly known as Posh Spice tops MT's list recognising Britain's most successful entrepreneurs in everything from cloud computing to metal bashing.

by Philip Beresford
Last Updated: 03 Nov 2014

Britain's entrepreneurs are the pathfinders of economic growth, as the recovery gathers pace. Our ninth MT survey of Britain's top 100 entrepreneurs and family businesses shows that in the past five years, from the depths of the downturn until last year, these business heroes have been doggedly expanding, taking on staff and somehow bucking the all-prevailing gloom.

See the full list here

No one better illustrates this than our new number one, who hardly needs any introduction. Step forward Victoria Beckham, former Spice Girl, part of a glorious power couple with footie legend husband David, and for us a supremely talented entrepreneur in the fashion business. Her Victoria Beckham operation, fresh from the triumphant opening of its first shop in London's Mayfair, has grown from £1m turnover to £30m in the past five years, and staff numbers are up from three to 100 in the same period. Deservedly, she is number one in these two crucial measurements for success in the MT Top 100.

So the entrepreneur formerly known as Posh Spice is queen of the catwalk now, helped by her old manager from the Spice Girls (and Pop Idol originator), Simon Fuller. But for the wider British economy, the good news about the success of our Top 100 is evident in our figures on jobs and turnover over the past five years. When we last undertook the MT 100 list in 2011, the 100 we then identified had increased their turnover from around £9.3bn to £16.7bn. This year's crop have gone much higher: from £16.1bn to £30.2bn, which represents an 88% rise and a huge amount of economic activity going on at the coalface of business in the UK.

Even more importantly, the MT 100 are the real job creators. In five years, they have added more than 61,556 employees to their payrolls, taking their head count to 158,189. This represents a 64% rise, and shows that in the critical area of productivity (in which much of the UK economy is notably lacklustre), our MT 100 members are right on top of their game. They are motivating their staff to achieve more and work harder, with turnover growing faster than the rate of employment growth.

Joining Victoria Beckham in our MT 100 rankings are 14 other women, more than the 11 we found in 2011. Among them are software entrepreneurs such as Suzanne Marshall-Forsyth (number 85) and Cathie Paver (number 93), founder of the fast-growing shoe chain. Both hail from York, reflecting the fact that Yorkshire is home to 14 of our Top 100, second to London and the south-east with 32. Scotland shows it has a flourishing enterprise culture, with 11 of our MT 100.

The burgeoning entrepreneurial talent of Britain's Asian community is also evident in the MT 100. Nine members or families make it to our rankings, led by brother-and-sister team Amit and Meeta Patel, who are just pipped to the top slot by Victoria Beckham. Their London-based pharma operation, Auden Mckenzie, is at the cutting edge of work into areas such as treating opioid addiction.

There are 14 tech entrepreneurs (doing everything from telecoms to cloud services) this year, but encouragingly for the Coalition's efforts to rebalance British business towards manufacturing, the march of the MT 100 makers is going at full tilt. Nearly a third of our 100 - 30 in total - come from niche manufacturing companies. They range from John Bloor, the saviour of the British motorbike industry through the revival of the Triumph marque, to Sir James Dyson of the ubiquitous vacuum cleaners, who is rapidly moving into new markets. Smaller but growing steadily are companies such as Melett, built up by Ian and Nicola Warhurst. This Yorkshire company (another from God's Own County) makes automotive turbocharger repair kits, exports 90% of its output and is expanding its market in China, fast.

One of our measures of how well our entrepreneurs are doing comes from a valuation of their stake in the business and other assets. These are based on the stock-market values if quoted, or are in line with those values for a private company. Such valuations, of course, come with many caveats, but serve as a rough-and-ready guide. Collectively, the Top 100 are, by our reckoning, worth £25bn, well up on the £10bn figure in 2011, and a new record.

The one fact that unites all our MT 100 - whatever region or sector they belong to - is their demonstrable record of success. But with the economic recovery still fragile, they will need to draw on all their resilience and experience to keep growing. We can only pray that they succeed. They are the best hope for Britain to enjoy a sustained recovery, with more jobs to come, especially for the army of school and university leavers.

Are you an ambitious young businesswoman? Come to our Inspiring Women event on 20th November to hear from speakers including Thomas Cook boss Harriet Green, Links of London founder Annoushka Ducas and M&S style director Belinda Earl. Check out the progamme and book tickets here. We're running a 15% discount until the end of this month.

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