From accountants and aerospace engineers to brilliant brewers and cyber specialist expansions, it's clear Cheltenham is a hotspot for thriving businesses.
In partnership with PoloWorks, SoGlos takes a closer look at some of the businesses flourishing in Cheltenham, with a stellar range of success stories across the town.
Armed with an ambitious growth model, PoloWorks at The Grange in Bishop's Cleeve on the edge of Cheltenham, is looking to recruit a raft of interns, college and university graduates early next year.
The firm started with 300 staff in April 2022 and is looking to potentially double that number in coming months to boost its insurance services offering. PoloWorks is in a position to do great things with turnover at the end of December 2022 standing at a very healthy £18 million.
Aerospace firm Ontic produces parts for many of the world's leading plane manufacturers from its UK base in Staverton, near Gloucestershire Airport on the edge of Cheltenham. It reported an all-time high in its turnover in 2022, amassing £83 million in revenue from its UK operations. Since 2019, it's tripled its UK presence — going from one site to three.
The firm is experiencing rapid growth, doubling its global headcount since 2019 and, in Gloucestershire specifically, rising from 300 employees to 600. It has increased its early careers headcount by 300 per cent since 2019 and the company as a whole has grown by almost 25 per cent, with a 30 per cent expansion of its product portfolio since 2022.
Farrar and Tanner
Established in 2018, personalised luxury gift specialist Farrar and Tanner saw its turnover increase by 242 per cent in 2022, with its spectacular growth leading it to treble its warehouse space from 6,000 to 18,000 square feet. This year, the firm opened the first Farrar & Tanner showroom in Cheltenham, welcoming customers in person and proudly passed the milestone of delivering more than 250,000 personalised gifts.
To meet growing demand the company has increased its staff numbers by 30 per cent. Its total number of employees now sits at 35, having grown from 17 before the pandemic — and its turnover is expected to reach £10 million by 2024.
After rebranding last year from First Solution to Emerge Digital, the launch of its new service and product lines such as an AI consultancy service and OnyxSecure package, have acted as catalysts for growth, with the brand's client base and revenue increasing by 30 per cent over the last 12 months.
The company has also made critical appointments at board level, including government advisor, Professor Richard Benham, who joined as a non-executive chairman and Phil Ball as head of innovation. Along with three new graduate recruits, the hires mark a 35 per cent increase in team size at the firm within the last 12 months, which now stands at 16.
Wagada Digital, began its journey at a kitchen table back in 2011. Now, the digital marketing agency has offices in Cheltenham and St Albans, employing a core team of 23 permanent staff as well as an army of freelancers with an annual turnover that is rising rapidly.
It opened a second office in Cheltenham and recruited four new team members in 2022, further building its brand presence in the west of England. The firm is currently a finalist in the UK Search Awards in the categories of Best Small Integrated Search Agency and Best Small SEO Agency.
This data-driven, human-inspired
content and performance marketing agency on The Promenade in Cheltenham increased its staffing by 30 per cent this year, bringing it to a headcount of 40. It also launched an apprenticeship scheme with students from the University of Gloucestershire.
Pinpoint Media has seen a 45 per cent increase in annual revenue with increased strategic investments in both the UK and overseas. Next year will see the opening of a new London office with 15 London staff expected to be recruited.
Cheltenham-based P3M Works began by quadrupling its team, going from the sole founder to four employees, welcoming a new graduate to its staff team, too. This year it's had staff growth of 20 per cent with the onboarding of two T-Level students.
The fast-growing cyber security and digital transformation consultancy, based at Hub 8 in The Brewery Quarter, has clients ranging from small businesses right up to the UK government, providing technical support across the entire cyber domain and it's more in demand than ever with 80 per cent growth in new projects for 2023.
Cheltenham-based Clarkson Evans has grown from one man and a van to some 800 staff nationwide today, with the Gloucestershire business being one of the UK's leading electrical contractors with a turnover of £67.8 million in 2022 up from £62.2 million in 2021.
Not only that, it was listed in the Department of Education's Top 100 Apprentice Employers in 2022, recognising its commitment to apprenticeships that dates back to 1981, with the business taking on a total of 180 new apprentices last year. It's invested in green technologies and has seen a significant increase in solar panel installations, boosting its turnover in renewable areas.
Award-winning Gloucestershire accountants and business advisors Hazlewoods has created careers within its team for more than 100 years. Growing its pool of more than 100 apprentices, the company took on 54 apprentices in 2023, providing exciting opportunities for school leavers and graduates and adding to its 500-strong staff team across its three offices in Cheltenham and Staverton.
Hazlewoods also offers 12-month work placements for university students, providing them with valuable commercial experience and insight into one of the county's top firms. Applications are now open for 50 more apprentices in September 2024.
North Tower Consulting
Technology and cyber consultant North Tower Consulting in Fairview in Cheltenham was set up in 2019 and has experienced significant growth since then, winning major government and defence contracts and building a highly skilled workforce. This year it became JOSCAR registered, showing compliance in the defence aerospace sectors.
By the end of 2020, it had 30 employees and subcontractors; in 2021 that number grew to 50; and by December 2022 it had grown again to over 100, with 23 per cent of its workforce being made up of apprentices. It also takes huge pride in its CSR provisions, with six work experience placements offered to local students in 2023 and an Armed Forces Covenant gold award for its support of ex-military and current reservists who currently work for the company, or who apply.
With rapid growth since its launch in August 2020, Cheltenham-based Indeloy IT Solutions' turnover has risen from £1.8 million in its first year to £4.5 million by December 2022.
Impressive financials aside, one of its proudest achievements is growing its staff team from two to nine members including two new apprentices this year, with two new roles up for grabs in 2024. New services have been added to its portfolio this year with the introduction of cyber security services and sustainable IT solutions, all showcased on a new website which went live in August 2023.
Since its launch in 2018, Bedfolk has not only revolutionised the bed linen market with its top-quality products; it has consistently increased its turnover by 500 per cent year-on-year, with an expected turnover of £25 million predicted by 2024.
It increased its staff from two to 17 in 2021, opening a new office and warehouse in Cheltenham to accommodate its growing team.
Griffiths Marshall and Paish Tooth
In February 2022, business advisors and chartered accountants Griffiths Marshall, which has offices in Gloucester and Lydney, acquired Cheltenham-based accountancy firm Paish Tooth and its 10-strong staff team.
Two of Griffiths Marshall's five directors became directors of Paish Tooth, with John Tooth remaining as a director working part-time for the firm. As well as promoting Paul Cox to director and Nuala Beardsall to group practice manager, it also took on five new staff, taking its total number to 38. In September 2023, it announced a new partnership with the University of Gloucestershire accounting and finance undergraduate course, supporting the next generation of new talent.
Cheltenham-based cyber security consultancy Salus Cyber saw demand for its services skyrocket during the Covid-19 pandemic, experiencing 427 per cent growth in revenue from 2019 to 2020. During this time, it also more than doubled its staff team from three to seven employees.
In 2022, Salus invested heavily in new talent, growing its workforce by a further 54 per cent, as well as developing a relationship with the University of Gloucestershire to start taking on apprentices, too. It also provides advice on how to get into the industry to local school children. This year it scooped Cyber Business of the Year in the SoGlos Gloucestershire Business Awards 2023.
Providing services to clients including BAE Systems, Dow Jones and PwC, Cheltenham-based software firm Ripjar is growing rapidly. Set up by former GCHQ staff, it saw its turnover increase by 12 per cent to £8.8 million in 2021 – and that's before it started investing the £28 million of Series B funding it won.
Its staff numbers are on the rise, too, growing from 69 to 95 – an increase of 37 per cent – with that number continuing to grow at both its Eagle Tower HQ and its operations in the USA and Australia.
Celebrating its 10th birthday this year, Cheltenham's original independent Japanese restaurant has grown in reputation and size since its humble beginnings in a Regent Street basement.
At the end of 2020, KIBOU employed 37 staff. Now it has restaurants in Bristol, Solihull, Cambridge and London, too, with its latest accounts showing staff numbers have grown to 170.
The Fireplace Gallery
Owned and operated by Chris and Nicola Wilson, The Fireplace Gallery in Cheltenham enjoyed rapid growth following the pandemic, enabling it to hire more engineers and showroom staff — taking its total number to 13, with six full-time field-based engineers and fitters, as well as three showroom sales advisors. The business has hired a full-time builder to help with creating media walls and false chimney breasts for customers, too.
As well as employing more staff in Cheltenham, it has also recently bought a second showroom in Gloucester, keeping on its existing staff as well as expanding the team there; while still maintaining a family-like atmosphere where staff feel valued and happy, with plenty of opportunities to develop.
DEYA Brewing Company
With a reputation for being one of Cheltenham's coolest venues, DEYA's brewery and taproom on Lansdown Industrial Estate offers a quirky and colourful decor and an outstanding mix of local street food traders pitching up each week — not to mention incredible beer on tap. The unique venue played host to the SoGlos Gloucestershire Lifestyle Awards in 2022 and it hosted the Cheltenham Pride after party this May 2023.
It's not just its popularity that continues to grow either, with its last published accounts showing staff numbers rose from 20 to 44 over the last three years. Its latest financial statement shows the firm's net worth standing at a cool £4.1 million for 2023, up from £3.1 million in 2022.
From starting in a single room on Cheltenham's Royal Crescent to occupying the 5,000-square-foot Chapel House on the High Street, complete with its own studio and event facilities, creative content agency Squashed Robot has seen some impressive growth over the last year.
On top of doubling its revenue, Squashed Robot has also grown its team, now employing 15 staff after taking on seven new starters, up from eight in 2022.
Based at Hub 8 at The Brewery Quarter in Cheltenham, bespoke software developer Savient grew its team from six to 20 in 2021, adding another five staff members in 2022 and further up to 29 this year. The business is proud of its impressive staff retention, offering a variety of benefits from performance-related bonuses and rewards to social events and family days that make it a fantastic place to work.
It also has its own Savient Academy, designed to provide training opportunities to staff members at the start of their careers.
Cheltenham-headquartered Portman Healthcare has experienced incredible growth over the last few years, despite its dental practices being closed to patients throughout much of 2020 and 2021.
As well growing its annual turnover by £3.9 million, it also took over a whopping 28 businesses, taking its total number of UK practices to 200, employing more than 900 people, with more than 300 dental consultants and specialists.