Magazine article Management Today

Britain's Top 100 Entrepreneurs 2015: The Discount Kings

Magazine article Management Today

Britain's Top 100 Entrepreneurs 2015: The Discount Kings

Article excerpt

This year's top spot on our list goes to Simon and Bobby Arora, who've built their bargain homewares chain B&M into a billion pound success story. They are joined by entrepreneurs in everything from aviation and drinks to soft toys and software.

If Britain is to continue to prosper amid the spreading shockwaves of the great China economic slowdown, it's going to need all the help it can get from its energetic army of entrepreneurs. Happily our 10th MT survey of Britain's Top 100 Entrepreneurs and family businesses shows that in the last five years, from the depth of the downturn until last year, the nation's self-made businessmen and women have been performing heroically, growing their operations, taking on staff and generating much-needed cash for both their local economies and the country.

So our Top 100 (see the full league table on p54 and profiles of the top 10 on p56) have seen staff numbers shoot up by nearly 85,000 in the last five years to over 164,000. This near-107% rise is much sharper than in previous years, justifying the view that our best entrepreneurs are the economy's real job creators. And job creation is one of the crucial measures we use in ranking our Top 100.

The other of course is turnover growth, reflecting the economic activity they generate. This year our 100 entrepreneurs had a total turnover of pounds 26.35bn, up from pounds 12.898bn five years ago.

This represents a 104.3% increase - great news for UK plc, but perhaps a note of caution should come here. This is the first time since we started doing the Top 100 that the overall growth in employment has been greater than the comparable growth figure for turnover. It may help explain why the British productivity record has been so lamentable in recent years, with an 18% lag behind our competitors. Quite simply the entrepreneurs collectively are not getting as much out of each staff member in output terms.

But behind the macroeconomic numbers are some pretty impressive individual performances, none more so than this year's number one - the Arora brothers of discount homewares chain B&M. Simon, the Cambridge-educated ex-McKinsey man, and his younger brother Bobby, who has a market trader's nose for a bargain and pricing, have in the last decade built up a group that is now the envy of the discount retail world, valued by the stock market at around pounds 3.2bn. More importantly for UK plc, in the last five years, B&M's remorseless expansion has seen its staff numbers jump by over 200% to 19,462. That must be a welcome boost in its Merseyside heartland where it has its headquarters.

This is matched by their track record in growing sales, up by 206% in the same period. But they are not alone in this respect. Our joint second place entries, 32-year-old Nitin Passi of the Missguided online fashion group and the Coates siblings - Denise and John - through their Bet365 online gaming operation, are just as effective when it comes to expansion. Passi has invested in a new headquarters in Manchester which, with all the trappings of an internet operation, is regarded as the coolest in the city. He reckons it will motivate his growing staff to make Missguided a pounds 1bn business in five years. Few would bet against him, or the nine others from Britain's thriving Asian business community who make our list.

Excellent progress this may be, but sadly we can't say the same about the number of female entrepreneurs in the Top 100. …

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