10 unique growth businesses in Gloucestershire to watch

Businesses continue to thrive in Gloucestershire – and here SoGlos showcases 10 interesting examples of county firms across the sectors which are growing at an impressive rate.

By Andrew Merrell  |  Published
The team from Gloucestershire architects and growth business Roberts Limbrick line up ahead of the Rotary Club of Gloucester's Dragon Boat Festival 2022 at the city's Docks.
The team from Gloucestershire architects and growth business Roberts Limbrick line up ahead of the Rotary Club of Gloucester's Dragon Boat Festival 2022 at the city's Docks.

In partnership with Vitruvius | vitruviusms.co.uk

Gloucestershire-based construction consultants, Vitruvius, offers specialist project, commercial and construction management services across a wide range of sectors – with professional accreditations from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, The Chartered Institute of Building, the Association for Project Management and Investors in People Gold.

Vitruvius manages projects from their inception, working collaboratively with clients before contractors or architects are appointed, tailoring each project team to the client’s specifications, to help them achieve their vision.

Businesses across Gloucestershire continue to grow and the range of that growth is huge. From companies like McGurk Group and fashion marketplace Secret Sales to architects Roberts Limbrick, engineering giant Renishaw, cyber expert ReformIT and start-ups like Eco-Able – every sector is thriving.

We turn the spotlight on 10 of them to show that no matter what the sector, how big the business, or how trying the economic headwinds, Gloucestershire is a brilliant place to do business.


1. Hartpury College and Hartpury University

Top ranked Hartpury College and Hartpury University continue to invest in the already impressive facilities at their shared site north of Gloucester, most notably of late in a new catering and conference building as well as new car parking.

The investment strategy ‘reflects the increasing demand for places’ at both. The shared vision is to create a university with 2,500 undergraduates and up to 500 post graduates, alongside a college of 2,000 students. Hartpury University and Hartpury College’s last joint annual statement shows total income of £42.37 million in 2020 to 2021, up from £39.9 million the previous year.


2. McGurk Group

Aside from rescuing Gloucester City FC from being wiped out by the floods of 2007 and helping sustain the football club until it could relocate to its Meadow Park home, Eamonn McGurk keeps a pretty low profile.

Known also as the co-owner of construction equipment company Keyway, his business interests are too many to list here, other than to say that the overarching McGurk Group – which he runs with older brother Brian – saw a 27 per cent increase in turnover from £26.4 million to £33.7 million for its last financial year.


3. Roberts Limbrick

It has been a busy year for architects Roberts Limbrick. A rebranding has also come alongside a number of high-profile projects – from Hartpury College and Hartpury University’s new catering hub building to the new £60 million Sandwell Aquatics Centre in the West Midlands.

Its rise and rise is reflected in the Gloucester firm’s latest annual report, which shows annual turnover rose from £7.4 million to £8.8 million. This year, the company has also reached the milestone of having over 100 members of staff.


4. Pro Global

Staff numbers of Pro Global’s main UK offices at Southgate House, overlooking Gloucester Docks, have swelled by 120 over the last two years to more than 350, taking its total workforce to 650 – and it has recently launched a graduate and apprenticeship recruitment drive.

The firm provides specialist services to the insurance market, catering for giants like of Lloyds of London and taking on some of the most unusual and challenging work in the sector. Its accounts for 2017 show a turnover of £15.2 million and in its most recent results, published in September 2021, turnover had more than doubled to £32.48 million.


5. Secret Sales

Chris Griffin’s fingerprints are all over the county fashion brand Superdry’s early online sales success. They’re also on former fast-growth Cheltenham-based firm Anatwine. Now, the Gloucestershire entrepreneur is driving LRG Online and the Secret Sales website.

By the end of Black Friday 2021 the premium ecommerce marketplace for fashion and beauty saw sales grow by 100 per cent on the same day the previous year. Its last accounts are even more impressive, showing turnover growth from £825,000 in 2020 to £4.6 million in 2021, with 40 staff handling £25.5 million of merchandise.


6. AccXel

The team behind AccXel was challenged with the small matter of raising some £2 million of funding for a new £3 million construction skills school, assembling a board, building the centre, opening it and filling it with students. Nicola Bird, Natalie Bell and their team have done just that at the AccXel campus in Cinderford.

With more than 27 partner businesses on board the centre opened in January 2022 with 80 'students' and created five new jobs. It expects to deliver 200 CITB and industry-recognised qualifications in year one, rising to 500 per annum (pa) by year six, with 26 apprenticeships completed in year two, rising to 40 a year from year three onwards.


7. Eco Able

Showing that start-ups can also grow in Gloucestershire too – Danielle Seatter launched her Cotswold business, Eco Able, at the start of the pandemic in 2020. The former early years teacher’s determination to establish a single source of environmentally friendly products – from children’s wear to cleaning, corporate gifts to wellbeing, presents for pets to toiletries, both family friendly and supporting Gloucestershire – is paying off.

A physical shop opened in Cirencester in May 2022, turnover was up 110 per cent on the first year and is expected to grow 120-plus per cent this year too and similarly in 2023, as well as create up to two jobs. She has even published a children’s story book (Away) – with an environmental theme, of course!


8. Renishaw

The Wotton-under-Edge headquartered engineering giant Renishaw has continued its incredible return from the lows of the pandemic, revealing that despite losing £2 million from ceasing business in Russia and Belarus, 2022 will be a year of considerable growth.

Its latest trading statement for the nine months to the end of March 2022 predicts turnover for 2022 could be as high as £675 million, with profits potentially reaching £170 million. Revenues for those nine months rose 21 per cent to £492 million. Adjusted profit before tax rose 47 per cent to £124 million.


9. ReformIT

Cyber security and outsourced IT firm ReformIT was founded in 1998 by Neil Smith. Its turnover has increased 100 per cent on last year, a period which includes the successful acquisition of Apple-focused firm Grafx Digital Technologies Ltd and saw headcount rise from 10 to 20 staff.

Ambitious targets for more growth are in place for the Cheltenham firm, not least increasing headcount even further over the next five years, introducing an apprenticeship scheme to help grow its own talent too and a new office is on the cards to help accommodate it all.


10. Tubby Toms

Hot sauce and seasoning company Tubby Tom’s has revealed a tenfold surge in production since it launched on a market stall just four years ago – with another 50 per cent growth expected in 2022.

Tom Hughes began selling his wares at Over Farm and Stroud Farmer’s Market and quickly developed a loyal customer base. Today a six-strong staff team at the Churcham firm create more than 70 products, with production increasing from 13,000 bottles a year to 166,000 sold through a growing network of stockists UK-wide.


By Andrew Merrell


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