The Sunday Times Fast Track 100

1998 - Fast Track 100 League Table

What is the Fast Track 100 – 1998?
The Fast Track 100 league table ranked Britain’s 100 private companies with the fastest-growing sales in 1998 over their latest three years.  To find out more about the research  and to view all the league tables from 1997 to 2023 click here

Sunday Times Fast Track 100 - Full 1998 Results

RankCompanyActivityLocationYear endAnnual sales rise over 3 yearsLatest sales £000sStaffComment
1Progressive Computer RecruitmentRecruitment agencySouth-west London1997197.79%26,434111High flying workers can earn up to £150,000 a year [† Latest sales]
2Optical ExpressOptical retailerCumbernauld, Glasgow1997188.43%36,650935A Scottish optician with an eye for acquisitions
3Rotrax Engineering ServicesElectrical and mechanical contractorsMiddlesbrough1997148.72%10,74080Rapid growth is result of repeat business from big contractors
4Travel CounsellorsTravel agencyBolton1997147.72%8,33071Holiday consultants visit clients in their own homes to plan and book trips
5TechnetixTelecoms equipment makerWest Sussex1997138.77%10,29483Investment in new equipment halved labour costs in three years
6Oxford Asymmetry InternationalChemicals researcherOxfordshire1997138.64%10,143150Oxford University spin-off that went public this year
7Beresford Blake ThomasRecruitment agencyLondon1997138.44%8,99155Having survived one downturn, the company has taken measures to withstand the next
8Wilson JamesSecurity providerEssex1997133.96%6,096265One of two companies in league table founded by a teenager
9Great Bear DistributionWarehouser and distributorChester1997132.55%10,544146Stores and distributes food for big grocers such as Sainsbury
10Antal InternationalRecruitment agencyCentral London1997131.19%3,921100The company places middle managers in 58 countries
11DR Simpson Chilled FoodsFish freezing and processing for supermarketsHull1997130.27%8,599120Started with mother's redundancy cheque, now supplies Somerfield and Asda
12A-Gas InternationalChemicals and gases distributorBristol1997128.85%11,98629Struck gold in newly regulated refrigerant-gas market
13Software WarehouseMail-order and reseller of software and hardware assembledBirmingham1997127.88%38,141324Young founder has recruited his sailing friends to help manage the business
14McGregor Boyall AssociatesRecruitment agencyLondon1997123.99%18,52641Former design lecturer turns techno-recruiter
15Meica GroupElectrical contractorWest London1997123.82%18,57382Company gained backing by venture capitalists after being rejected by banks
16Gemstone TravelTravel agencyBerkshire1997122.88%16,44691Offers cheap airline seats via teletext and national newspaper advertising
17Team 121Software installerBirmingham1997121.57%12,433115Good profits earned on export sales to mainland Europe [† Latest sales]
18Computer FuturesRecruitment agencyCentral London1997115.92%70,528283Company says it adds 2,000 candidates to its database every week
19C-Mar Services (UK)Marine consultancyAberdeen1997112.30%5,93327Launched by two sea captains while decommissioned from their drill-ship
20Management Services InternationalHotel operatorBerkshire1997109.10%4,974281Three men turned ailing hotel company into profitable chain of six
21Bulldog Computer ServicesFurniture makerLeicestershire1997103.57%5,01171Two days before ISO9000 certification, a storm blew off the factory roof
22S&J (Chatteris)Building contractorsCambridgeshire1997102.76%6,77726Late-blooming family business jumps 48 places on the list
23EyretelDevelopers of multimedia recording and analysis equipmentWest Sussex1997102.14%17,344156Last year's top company on list recently raised £22.5m in venture capital
24Classic Choice FurnishingsFurniture makerMid Glamorgan1997102.12%3,19759Chief executive nominated by venture capitalists decided to put up the money himself
25AGP DistributionComputer components wholesalerHampshire1997100.36%22,02529Arranges staff football matches to foster camaraderie
26Karavale EnterprisesElectronic design and assembly of circuit boardsWelwyn Garden City199798.89%14,186450600-worker firm created from blue-chip plant closure
27Humana ConsultingRecruitment agencyLondon199798.78%11,31928Loyalty club for temps offers free training in exchange for hours worked
28Backup StaffRecruitment agencyWorcester199798.33%3,69025Squeezes prospective staff and clients' for competitors' practices
29Argo HolidaysTour operatorLondon199798.21%10,89430Frenchwoman ships Britons to Cyprus to learn western-style line dancing
30Manning Gottlieb MediaAdvertising agencyLondon199796.80%63,92525Clients include Nike and Virgin. Acquired by Omnicom
31GyroMarketing agencyLondon199796.45%4,60717Employee incentives include trips to Majorca and Armani suits
32Schallenberg International TransportFreight forwarderSuffolk199794.24%3,34210Removal of east European borders presented threats but also opportunities
33YardbraceChemicals distributorHull199794.21%48,91593One of the largest exporters on the list, with 70% of revenues generated overseas
34FDiRecruitment agencyBrighton199790.92%14,787112Prides itself on training local youth and the unemployed
35Highfield GroupNursing home operatorEdinburgh199790.57%29,1043,228Largest employer in the league table with 3200 workers in 1997
36DCS Group (UK)Toiletry products distributorStratford-upon-Avon199790.36%35,56224Former hockey international joined three brothers to export to more than 49 countries
37Roldec SystemsAssemblers and direct re-sellers of computers via mail orderWolverhampton199789.78%10,07550Claims to assemble and deliver its computers faster than Dell and Gateway
38Link LicensingLicensing agencyLondon199789.73%4,24728Positioning its Teddybears brand to be the next Teletubbies
39Hedon SaladsFood processorHumberside199788.96%13,198191Plans to generate own electricity from waste lettuce
40Custom Cable (Communications) CoCable installerSurrey199788.15%6,68055Founder moved from mother's basement to kitchen, then took over the whole house
41Panacea ServicesProvision of computer maintenance services and sale of computersLondon199786.74%6,97420Partners originally set out to open a jazz bar
42Bon Bon BuddiesConfectionery makerGwent199786.16%4,59314Sells chocolate RugRats and Monopoly to leading retailers
43Plan-Net ServicesComputer services providerLondon199785.85%3,93342IT contractors teamed up to get big bank's business
44Camco Air ConditioningAir conditioning distributorWest Midlands199785.66%8,22915Rewards customers with its Ferrari for a day
45Gamble Jarvis PlantIndustrial equipment providerWest Sussex199785.13%13,0953727 year-old family business shifts into high gear by selling imports from Canada
46Thomson Pettie Tube ProductsSteel products makerLanarkshire199784.96%5,602150After firm went into receivership owner bought it back at a quarter of the price
47PMR GroupIT recruitment consultancyKent199783.97%7,45420Staff vote on major decisions
48Systems CapitalComputer lessorLondon199783.75%13,34649One-stop shop for computer leasing
49Taran MicrosystemsComputer assemblerHampshire199783.65%8,12118The school of hard knocks: lost £60,000 to a disappearing supplier
50BUE MarineMarine services providerEdinburgh199783.27%9,21151Operate solely in unpredictable Caspian Sea region
51BodenClothing retailerNorthwest London199782.45%9,49161Use friends and staff as models for up-market catalogue
52Svenska Palmer ConstructionSpecialist builderTyne & Wear199781.97%4,30660Builder specialises in Swedish timber-framed system of construction
53GlotelRecruitment agencyCentral London199781.15%49,085133Eighteen offices internationally from San Francisco to Sydney
54Lucas FlettWaste equipment makerBuckinghamshire199780.73%20,603180Owner bought back business he founded 30 years ago
55Telesoft DesignTelephony switch makerDorset199780.68%6,43035Achieves the second-highest return on sales of all companies in the league table
56Pride Valley FoodsBakerCounty Durham199779.90%8,027155Secured new premises within hours of catastrophic fire
57Tai Computer SystemsComputer components distributorLondon199779.79%9,31413Three cousins squeeze £9m in sales from just 13 staff
58Voyager NetworksComputer consultancyCoventry199779.75%5,86650Installs computer networks for clients such as PepsiCo and the Civil Aviation Authority
59Modular TechnologyManufacture and supply of data communications productsOxfordshire199779.68%7,80861Company claims one in four PCs sold in Britain contains its products
60Mason CommunicationsIT consultancyManchester199779.66%6,04380Full-time culture chief conducts company samba drum playing rituals
61Countrywide ConsortiumProvision of grounds maintenance services to corporatesCheshire199778.73%8,47820Family-run business is sole franchisor in league table with 50 UK franchisees
62Ink (Clothing)Clothes manufacturerLondon199778.66%3,35911Competes with Calvin Klein and Diesel, but in much lower price bracket
63ComDisAudio visual equipment providerWest Midlands199777.38%3,36027Husband and wife team capitalises on audio visual boom
64Phoenix ComputersComputer services contractorNorthampton199777.20%12,172220Owner used venture capital backers to retire partner
65TPD GroupPublishers of magazines and directoriesLondon199776.38%15,243143Company says quality and employees matter more than aggressive profit targets
66ADA Computer SystemsComputer installerWest Sussex199775.98%3,64225Sales people are trained to turn away unprofitable business
67InterdependenceFinancial support serviceHampshire199775.96%11,52815Company believes female co-founder provides healthy balance
68Extra PersonnelProvision of temporary and permanent staff to industryWest Midlands199774.59%9,41487Claims to help the unemployed in its area
69Carphone WarehouseMobile phone retailerNorthwest London199774.36%107,371451Becoming a household name and has the largest sales on the list
70New Forest FoodsPoultry importerWiltshire199774.33%18,366111Brothers claim they can track imports down to the chicken that laid the egg
71Henson CorporationRecruitment agencyEssex199774.01%14,395139Sleeping beauty awakened by demands for experts to tackle millenium bug
72DX CommunicationsRetail of mobile phones & network contractsLanarkshire199773.61%21,217173Young founder has built Scotland's leading cellular retailer [† Latest sales]
73AculabTelephony equipment makerBuckinghamshire199773.46%9,37373Jazz musician switched from sound mixing to digital telephony
74The Gadget ShopGift retailerHumberside199773.32%12,15116021 groovy stores hawk inflatable furniture, lava lamps, and trendy yo-yo's
75Sol-TecComputer distributorReading199772.86%3,15626First and largest client cold-called from co-founder's bedroom
76Special Delivery ServicesCourierLondon199772.66%7,075173Sophisticated database pinpoints package location with picture of messenger
77BasebuyClothes retailerLancashire199772.46%3,33210013 stores still run by four people from founder's living room
78Noto CateringJapanese catererLondon199772.32%3,44450Runs Harrods' sushi bar and supplies Pret a Manger
79Anglia Telecom CentresTelecommunications specialistSuffolk199771.83%37,270235Chief executive slept in his car to save money for start-up
80QuartzAir conditioning makerDorset199771.80%5,95887Founder sold out this year for £4m after four years in business
81ComputappointRecruitment agencyLondon199771.76%6,83616Former Harrods' manager used £10,000 credit-card loan to fund start-up
82Ashbourne CommunicationsCable installerSouthwest London199771.43%36,515175Irish brothers turn £10,000 into £37m sales business
83MBI MBOHotelliersHertfordshire199770.86%3,69675Planet Hollywood-type hotel for backpackers and other business hotels in central London
84ROC RecruitmentRecruitment agencyLondon199770.78%4,97841Company set up by female entrepreneur later joined by ex-army husband
85Prosoft LogisticsCD makerWest London199770.73%5,47935Textbook case of three management consultants with venture capital backing
86Telecom Design CommunicationsElectronic components distributorHampshire199770.71%3,50323One of company's largest customers, Modular Technology, is also on the list
87KingsburghTechnology value added resellerEdinburgh199770.41%5,47935Has profited from implementing Microsoft's frequent upgrades
88SteljesReseller & hire of audio-visual equipmentWest London199770.03%14,96937Won over banker by displaying business plan on equipment he planned to sell
89PCI LiveDesignMarketing agencyLondon199769.97%7,80636Boss uses 30-second recruiting test, arguing clients do the same
90GardmanGarden products wholesalerLincolnshire199769.73%6,76287Tuned into national gardening obsession
91MiletrianContract cleanerSurrey199769.70%27,43418822 year-old trainee chef spotted opportunity while cleaning offices to pay bills
92CAE Office SuppliesComputer distributorHertfordshire199768.86%6,07115Business was set up by Iranian and Lebanese couple
93Grampian Electronic ComponentsElectronic components distributorAberdeenshire199768.46%4,09620Co-founder sold fish and chip shop to join childhood friend in business [† Latest sales]
94MJ Quinn (Electrical)Electrical contractorMerseyside199768.06%5,33239Has won contracts with organisations such as Railtrack and London Underground
95TeleAdaptHotel telecoms providerCentral London199768.03%4,11871Supplies more than 40 types of telephone sockets to business travellers
96Prime Time RecruitmentRecruitment agencyNorthampton199767.32%21,720165Opened seven regional offices on day one with the help of venture capital
97LogistixMarketing agencyBuckinghamshire199767.29%10,31424Founders mortgaged homes to buy company back from receiver
98STH Stretch The HorizonMarketing agencyLondon199766.61%7,65432Regular brainstorming sessions with staff
99Glyn Webb WallpapersSuppliers of wallpaper and home improvementsLancashire199766.55%24,789447Claims to have funded 10 new stores in past 3 years with retained earnings
100The Jean SceneClothes retailerWest Lothian199766.01%4,818116Raju Tali started as market trader at the age of 21

* Supplied by Company  † Annualised figure

Data Source:

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