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07 July 2020
“Scale-up business” may not be a term familiar to laymen, but their achievements are often headline-grabbing. A scale-up is any company that can boast an average annualised return of at least 20% over the previous three years: these are often start-ups entering the “growth phase” of their lifecycle, those on the way to making it big.
For the Lloyds Bank National Business Awards, a truly great scale-up business is one with a turnover of less than £3 million that has used fantastic customer service, outstanding leadership and innovation, and an ethical approach to business to drive astounding, market-leading growth. Here are some of the winners from the past few years that have met—and indeed surpassed—those criteria.
ReBOUND looked at the high return rate in the online retail sector—20–30% for apparel and as high as 60% for evening wear—and found an opportunity. It realised there was a gap in the market for a smarter international returns solution, helping firms improve efficiency and increase sales. Today, ReBOUND’s platform manages the returns process for 500 brands including ASOS and Gymshark, handling more than 35 million transactions a year and providing customer data and insights to its clients.
It was this innovation and successful growth strategy that saw ReBOUND take home the Castle Corporate Finance Scale-Up Business of the Year Award in 2019. Since launching in 2014, the firm has grown to twenty times the size of its nearest competitor—and truly astounding success story!
2018: Nexus Vehicle Rental
A market-leading increase in sales, headcount, profitability and market share saw Nexus Vehicle Rental become the worthy winner of what was then known as the Elite London Stock Exchange Group Scale-Up Award.
Its revolutionary online vehicle rental platform that allows customers to book consumer, specialist and commercial vehicles in seconds is the secret to its success. Developed by its in-house IT department, At the time of winning the award, Nexus Vehicle Rental could boast 550,000 rental vehicles a year, a 30% year-on-year increase in staff and a double-digit turnover increase for four consecutive years.
We spoke to Nexus Vehicle Rental CEO David Brennan last year, who revealed just how much winning the award meant to the firm: “We were very surprised and very, very delighted to be able to go up on stage and receive the award from Naga Munchetty. It felt brilliant to get recognition for our business and our growth. It's great brand recognition and we were proud to be involved.”
Cloud-based employee perks platform Perkbox took home the Smith & Williamson Scale-Up Business of the Year in 2017. The firm identified a gap in the market for a digital employee engagement service, and created a platform that offers freebies, perks and discounts to help promote physical, financial and mental wellbeing at work, recognising employees’ hard work and collecting feedback and insights as it does so.
Perkbox’s innovative, disruptive service produced big results, and since winning the award the firm has expanded overseas and partnered with numerous other organisations to deliver an even better service.
The Castle Corporate Finance Scale-up Business of the Year Award recognises any firm that can demonstrate strong growth—not just in revenues, but in headcount and market share too.
According to Castle Corporate Finance Managing Director Stuart Stepney, that means “organisations that are actively engaging with the world around them, pushing the boundaries of opportunity beyond the typical corporate remit and being conscious of their socio-political as well as economic landscape.” We sat down with Stuart in March to find out more about what makes a great scale-up business.
If your own organisation fits the bill, and if you have a scale-up success story to shout about, we want to hear from you. Get started on your entry today, and you might follow in the footsteps of the fantastic firms that have won the award over the last few years. Go for it!