The Fast Track 100 published by the Sunday Times (13-page / 1.8MB PDF) found that international growth was central to increasing sales for most of the companies it profiled.
"More than two-thirds of the companies (67) have expanded overseas to boost revenue growth, up from 58 last year and 23 that featured on the first league table in 1997," the report said. "Examples include AerFin, which sells aircraft and parts to overseas customers like Philippine Airlines and Lufthansa; and Welland Power, which produces over 3,000 generators per year, roughly 95% of which end up abroad."
Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, published research in October into the characteristics shared by Europe's fastest growing companies, companies which it called 'pacesetters'.
This research found that 39% of Europe’s fastest-growing companies anticipate revenues to grow faster over the next three years than the previous three. Companies expect a lot of this growth to come from Asia and Africa.
57% of companies see the market for products and services in their sector increasing greatly in Asia in the next 12 months; 41% say the same of Africa, and 30% for North America, the report found.
Corporate law expert Andrew McMillan of Pinsent Masons said: "We’re seeing increasing interest from fast-growth companies in international markets, in particular, Asia, Africa and North America. In part, the reason for this can be attributed to scale - as companies grow, they can increasingly afford to look beyond their home markets.
"Another reason for this is confidence. While success within one market is not, in itself, a guarantee of success in other markets, it is at least an indicator that a fast-growth company’s products or services may be of interest to customers beyond its country of origin. There are, obviously, risks that attach to execution, but the scale of some of these potential markets means there is a lot to play for."
"Technology is playing an increasing part in all of this. More and more now, as connectivity increases and service offerings are increasingly housed in the cloud, companies are able to provide services in a way and at a pace that makes traditional borders largely irrelevant," said McMillan.