Gloucestershire entrepreneur named in top 200 female-powered UK businesses list

An entrepreneur from Gloucestershire, whose company is enjoying growth of several hundred percent a year, has been named in a UK top 200 female-powered businesses list.

By Andrew Merrell  |  Published
Jo James, of Bedfolk, who was named by influential American bank JP Morgan in its list of 200 top female-powered businesses.
Jo James, of Bedfolk, who was named by influential American bank JP Morgan in its list of 200 top female-powered businesses.

An influential American investment bank known the world over has named what it considers the top 200 female-powered businesses – among them, an entrepreneur from Gloucestershire.

This is part of J.P. Morgan’s efforts to not only showcase some of the rising stars of business, but make a serious point about the need for others in its sector to take businesswomen as seriously as their male peers.

Out of only 17 other women in the south west, it picked out Jo James, of Cheltenham firm Bedfolk, which has seen demand grow by 500 per cent annually since it launched three years ago.

‘We’re absolutely thrilled to be recognised by JP Morgan and Beauhurst as one of the UK’s top 200 female-powered businesses,’ said Mrs James, who founded Bedfolk with her husband, Nick.

‘Things are definitely improving but I’ve seen first-hand some of the challenges and biases associated with being a female founder – not least in the investment community which is heavily male dominated and skewed.

‘It’s so great to see more recognition for female-founded – and powered (two thirds of our team are female) – businesses that can help to move things further in the right direction.’

Further growth is expected in 2021 with Bedfolk predicting its team, now 15-strong, will need to reach 30-plus to keep up with demand.

‘The growth we’ve seen in the past 12 months has allowed us to bring forward recruitment and investment plans to support our continued growth in 2021,’ said Mr James.

Bedfolk used the services of The Growth Hub in Gloucestershire to help launch the business.

It was a planning process that took 12 months and a passion which even saw the pair designing ‘the perfect sheets’ and touring textile mills on their honeymoon.

In September 2019, the then Tetbury-based bedding brand also secured £150,000 from Worth Capital – an angel investment network based in London – after being crowned winners of the national Start-Up Series competition.

JP Morgan underlines its Top 200 Female-Powered Businesses report by stating that high-growth female-powered businesses raised a record £2.3 billion in equity investment in 2020 – up 41 percent from 2019.

‘While last year was a record year for equity investment into female-powered businesses, this is still a fraction of the more than £13 billion invested into all UK growth companies in 2020,’ it said.

By Andrew Merrell

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