These 19 companies either finished the last year in a strong position or have grand plans for the year ahead. If you have a business story to tell then you can email the business desk on firstname.lastname@example.org
- Acorn Recruitment
Acorn Recruitment and Training Ltd's set-up.
The recruitment firm with its headquarters in Newport has recently expanded its operations in Australia.
Acorn acquired Entire Recruitment, through its subsidiary recruitment business in Australia, Synaco, and will take over all its assets, including three branches in Sydney, Brisbane and Rock Hampton, the agency’s team of more than 20 staff and all of their current contracts.
With the acquisition, Acorn’s presence in Australia will be placing a workforce of more than 1,000 temporary employees daily as well as a growing number of permanent placements across a range of industries.
In 2019 its revenues will grow to approximately AUS$100m, bringing Acorn’s combined UK and global turnover to circa £180m in 2019 and placing more than 7,000 people daily into work across the UK, Ireland and Australia.
24/05/2016 Pics (C) Huw John, Cardiff. MANDATORY BYLINE - Huw John, Cardiff Apprentices at AerFin, Caerphilly mail: email@example.com Web: www.huwjohn.com Twitter: @huwjohnpics
The fastest-growing firm in Wales in 2016 and 2017, AerFin saw growth slow last year, somewhat not surprisingly, and the market-leading civil aviation parts distributor and lessor was number 15 on Wales’ Fast Growth 50 list. The firm, founded in 2010, had growth of 249% in 2015-17 and turnover of £66.8m in 2016-17.
The business operates over three locations and is headquartered in a 105,000 sq ft former General Electric aero engine services facility at Bedwas, near Caerphilly, where it provides engine leasing, engine disassembly, engine part sales and technical advisory services.
- ALS Managed Services
ALS Managed Services deal left to right Steve Lanigan MD, Steve Galvin DBW, Ruby Harcombe DBW, Gavin Payne FD, Joe Morris Ops director.
Caerphilly firm ALS Managed Services was the fastest-growing business in Wales last year. The recruitment company, which specialises in the recycling and warehousing sectors, does not have any high-street branches, firmly believing that the recruitment industry needs to evolve and be more customer- and candidate-focused.
By reducing its office overhead costs significantly, ALS ensures it offers far superior levels of account management support to customers and workers. It had a 4,237.6% growth between 2015-17 and its turnover in 2016-17 was £10.85m.
- Bad Wolf
(Image: Wales Online)
PUBLICITY PIC Discovery of Witches Sky Original
The first TV drama series from the independent Cardiff production company hit the small screen last year. A Discovery of Witches was a big success and has been commissioned for two further seasons, with the second series to start shooting in Wales this year.
The company, founded by Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner, also started production of the highly-anticipated adaption of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy.
The series, which boasts a star-studded cast led by James McAvoy and Ruth Wilson, is being made for the BBC and has HBO as a co-producer and distributor. The first series finished shooting last year and is now in post-production; the second series is set to start filming this year.
Bad Wolf is also working on a new drama series conceived by former British Vogue editors Alexandra Shulman and Fiona Golfar. Gold Dust Nation will tell the story of the 1990s through the prism of a British monthly fashion magazine.
The production company also has another production with HBO in the pipeline called Industry, set during the banking crisis.
Following an investment of £6.5m, Biocatalysts has built a 11,000 sq ft extension to its existing site in Nantgarw, together with significant investment in new plant.
The investment, supported by Barclays, has trebled the company’s manufacturing capacity and will create 30 additional jobs and accommodate increased demand as the business continues to grow and expand into new markets.
The business currently generates annual revenues of £10m, with ambitious growth plans to double turnover by 2023.
Established in 1985 after relocating to Wales from west London, courtesy of a grant from the Welsh Development Agency, the business currently employs over 70 staff and is a world leader in specialty enzyme manufacturing for the food-processing and other industries.
Its enzyme technology production is used to improve processed food quality and shelf-life, and enhance flavour, and is part of the supply chain to seven of the top 10 global food companies.
- Celtic Manor
The £83.7m International Convention Centre Wales (ICC Wales) at the resort is on track to open in the summer of 2019 and will be able to accommodate 5,000 conference delegates. Straight away, the new venue was being touted as potential location as a host for both the Labour and Conservative party conferences.
For the seventh time in eight years the resort was named the UK’s best at the Meetings & Incentive Travel Awards in London. The group has plans to add more hotels to its portfolio – there are plans for a five-star hotel in the centre of Cardiff, while the Celtic Manor is also interested in a new hotel in the centre of Newport.
Chief executive of Confused.com Louise O' Shea
According to its chief executive Louise O’Shea, Cardiff-based Confused.com is now focused on disrupting the price comparison industry for a second and possibly a third time over the next five years.
Originally from Yorkshire, Ms O’Shea – who was previously with Confused’s parent company, FTSE 100 insurance giant Admiral, for a decade in senior roles including international business development director and head of investor relations – believes price comparison as we know it today will not necessarily exist in a few years’ time.
“I think the whole model will evolve to become much more of a customer-centric model. It is almost like an evolution into more of an intelligent service,” she said.
- Human Food
Ky Wright created the bars when he started experimenting with healthy smoothie recipes
Pembrokeshire-based Human Food was conceived in 2014 and, after four years of research and development, was launched on Kickstarter in 2018. The product is described as the world’s first organic “daily nutrition bar”, designed specifically to support a plant-based diet but good for anybody.
After a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign – the all-time most funded UK food product and the third most funded vegan product worldwide – Human Food is now operational and will start shipping its first orders this spring.
Founder Ky Wright is confident they have created a unique product.
“Human Food is the world’s first meal replacement made of 100% natural ingredients, fortified only with complex vitamins and minerals derived from organic wholefoods,” he said.
“All other meal replacements contain synthetic vitamins which do not contain important synergistic co-factors present in complex nutrients. Also, unlike other meal replacements, Human Food contains no grains, no added sugar or sweeteners and no artificial flavouring. The only flavour comes from 20 organic wholefoods and wholefood extracts, selected and balanced for optimal taste and bio-availability.
“After four years of development, we couldn’t be happier about the enthusiasm generated by our Kickstarter campaign. We can’t wait to ship our first orders.”
- Ickle Bubba
Fran and Veronica Vaughan started Ickle Bubba in 2013
The Llanelli-based manufacturer and distributor of children’s nursery products was 10th on the 2018 Fast Growth 50 list.
The birth of Ickle Bubba coincided with the birth of Fran and Veronica Vaughan’s first child in 2011 and shopping for the all-important pram. Within six months of its inception, 40 retailers were stocking the stylish prams and accessories.
In 2018 the first overseas office was opened in China and it now employs a small team to manage Far East operations.
Ickle Bubba’s range has continued to grow and it has big plans for the product pipeline over the next 18 months. The UK market remains a key focus in the short term as the firm looks to become a market-leading brand within the next three years, but they are looking to export more and there are plans to scale across five European markets as part of the longer-term vision to become a globally recognised nursery brand.
InSite's directors (Image: Castle Photography Ltd)
InSite Technical Services provides engineering expertise and operational experience to the energy sector in south-west Wales, the UK and beyond. Since start-up in January 2015, the company has grown from a handful of engineers to a 50-strong team with over 20 supporting contractors and is now poised to move to larger premises.
The six directors were members of Milford Haven Refinery’s engineering team, with a track-record of safe, successful project delivery. InSite was built on the engineering talent already in Pembrokeshire and provides project design, engineering and support services. It counts the major sites on the Haven among its customers, including the local refinery and LNG sites. InSite has provided services to refineries worldwide over the past four years, working in Kuwait, Saudi, UAE, Canada and Europe.
Its consultancy and design skills have taken it into metals, chemicals and oil storage, and they are actively developing routes into nuclear and renewables. By exhibiting at conferences in Cannes and Abu Dhabi last year, InSite is growing its international presence and plans to relocate to larger premises this year.
Moneypenny in Wrexham. (Image: North Wales Daily Post)
It might have the reputation for having one of the coolest offices in Wales but Moneypenny is also one of the country’s fastest-growing firms.
The Wrexham-based firm is taking on 25 staff every month and has moved into the top floor of its headquarters.
The company relocated to its cutting-edge Wrexham office – with a pub and treehouse – at the end of 2016, with less than 500 staff at that time. That figure has now hit 650 and growing. The business is expanding 20% a year, with Live Chat and other digital products helping drive that growth.
These extra workers have seen the innovative company expand into the third floor of the new building.
In line with Moneypenny’s commitment to having one of the best workplaces in the UK, it has also added in a hi-tech gym for workers.
MyPinPad executive David Muxworthy (Image: Western Mail)
Cardiff-based MyPinPad is a world-leading innovator in payments software authentication solutions.
Its patented technology creates a trusted and hardened environment that protects sensitive consumer operations on devices such as tablets and smartphones for in-store transactions.
MyPinPad is currently increasing its number of software engineers in Cardiff by 100, and investors have backed its huge global growth potential with a recent £15m investment round. It also has offices in London and Hong Kong.
- Net World Sports
(Image: Matthew Lloyd)
Sports equipment supplier Net World Sports has enjoyed spectacular growth since moving to Wrexham Industrial Estate three years ago – with the headcount more than doubling to over 100.
But the projections for the next five years are even more ambitious.
Founder Alex Lovén is hoping to build a 400,000 sq ft site in the town with the potential to take staff numbers to over 400.
Mr Lovén said: “Over the next year, we will continue growing across the board and are hiring substantially in almost all departments.
“With more international websites set to launch early 2019, we’re always on the lookout for energetic and enthusiastic translators, content writers, website developers, sales assistants and customer care advisors.”
- SilverLining furniture
The Torricelli Table from SIlverlining
The Wrexham company supplies furniture to the super-rich and famous celebrities, and has become a global name in the luxury market.
It currently employs over 80 workers on Wrexham Industrial Estatebut hopes to increase this over the coming years.
Managing director Mark Boddington, part of the famous Boddington’s beer family, says moving to Wales has seen it become a “gazelle business” (high-growth company).
He has the ambition of taking staff numbers to 130 by 2022.
- Transcend Packaging
Transcend Packaging has already seen impressive growth in only a short space of time, with deals signed to supply paper straws to some of the UK’s leading fast food and coffee chains, including McDonald’s, along with major distribution firms servicing the hospitality sector. It is now seeing extensive demand across Europe and North America and is in the process of growing to a target of 200 employees by the end of 2021.
The Ebbw Vale-based firm, which received start-up funding from Close Brothers Asset Finance, is now hiring for multiple positions, adding new print equipment and capabilities, as well as substantially increasing its straw production capacity.
Vizolution (Image: publicity picture)
Swansea-based Vizolution is a UK-based SaaS (software as a service) company that helps enterprises streamline complex customer journeys by replicating the qualities of face-to-face interactions within remote channels.
With banks among its growing client base, it secured a £10m new funding investment last year, and backers include Santander Consumer Finance, Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC.
Vizolution technology, which combines the qualities of face-to-face with the convenience of digital and the cost of remote, offers a human approach in an increasingly digital world, where 75% of people still value the benefits that personal interactions bring, especially when seeking advice about purchases or complex products.
It has also won numerous awards and accolades, including rankings on the 2018 Fast Growth 50 List and Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 league table of the UK’s fastest-growing tech firms.
- Vortex IoT
Vortex IoT colloboraiton from left to right: Dimitris Pletsas (senior fund development Officer, Swansea University); Nick Beckett (Vortex IOT director of finance); Adrian Sutton (Vortex IOT managing director); Dr Anke Heuberger (operations manager, Swansea University, College of Engineering); Professor Johann Sienz (Swansea University, College of Engineering); Dr Sharadha Kariyawasam (Vortex IOT head of technology and innovation)
Vortex IoT builds sensors and networks for harsh environments where conditions are hostile, power supply is limited, AI is needed and data security is critical.
Within a year of trading, Vortex had raised £750k of equity funding, including £250k from the Development Bank of Wales, and secured more than £1.5m of Innovate UK projects. It has already registered three trademarks and held six patents pending covering products.
Vortex has 15 full-time staff and has grown its Swansea office space to 2,500 sq ft and commissioned a Rapid Prototyping Laboratory.
With an office having also opened in Singapore, some of Vortex IoT’s work includes sensor solutions for airport gateway services, air quality monitoring, and the detection of obstructions and intrusions for rail infrastructure.
- Wild Water Group
(From right) Nigel Payne, Wild Water Group, Jonathan Cave, Lloyds Bank Commercial Bank, Ken Rattenbury, Wild Water Group, Stephen Elias, Development Bank of Wales
The cold storage facility company is bringing hundreds of jobs to south Wales.
Towards the end of the year Wild Water Group signed a deal with global supply logistics giant GAC. The alliance will see GAC support its international freight-forwarding requirements from the start of the year.
The agreement followed Wild Water’s purchase of a 130,000 sq ft building on a 12-acre site in Aberbargoed in September 2018, which will generate new management, supervisory, warehousing and apprenticeship roles.
The company anticipates the new facility will create 150 new positions over the next three years, from senior management to apprentices, shop-floor staff to administration roles.
The demand for cold storage has led the firm to look to expand.
- Zip World
Zip World's Adventure Terminal in Bethesda
(Image: Daily Post Wales)
Zip World has seen staff numbers surge to 450 in just five years – growing at a speed to rival its zip wires