Three trends from 2020’s fastest-growing businesses

Gymshark founders
Gymshark
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
7 December 2020

The Sunday Times Virgin Atlantic Fast Track 100 list has been revealed – announcing Britain’s top 100 companies with the fastest-growing sales.

2020 has been a tough year for businesses; the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the economy in ways that no-one could have predicted. These companies have succeeded in spite of that. Here are some interesting trends we’ve spotted in this year’s list.

Sunday Times Virgin Atlantic Fast Track 100
Sunday Times Virgin Atlantic Fast Track 100

Diversity

This year’s Fast Track 100 list is the most diverse yet. It features a record 28 female founders and co-founders from 26 businesses – this is a massive increase from the seven female-founded companies that featured on the first Fast Track 100 list in 1997.

Among those is Ooni, the home pizza oven manufacturer founded by Darina Garland and her husband Kristian Tapaninaho. Ooni saw its sales spike when restaurants were closed in March and people were forced to spend more time at home.

The 2020 Fast Track 100 list is also more racially diverse than ever before. In 1997, there were just four people of colour on the list – in 2020, this has gone up to 18 founders from 14 businesses. 

Two Asian entrepreneurs feature in the top 10. Faisal Lalani and Jamil Mawji are the co-founders of National Care Group. The Accrington-based firm supports individuals with complex care needs, focusing on learning disabilities, mental health and brain injuries, and providing supported living and residential services. During the pandemic, it has recruited nearly 600 new employees.

Sustainability

More than half of the companies featured in the 2020 Fast Track 100 list have adopted ‘green schemes’, whether that’s achieving B Corp or Forest Stewardship Council certification, or by publicly committing to lowering CO2 footprints and use of plastics.

A sign reading "Brewdog forest coming soon" next to two men planting trees
Brewdog

Over the last few years, consumers have pressed businesses to consider their impact on the environment and take positive action. One of the companies on the list that has responded to this is BrewDog. It announced in August that it had become carbon negative through offsetting. It has also bought 2,050 acres in the Scottish Highlands where it will create the BrewDog Forest, planting a million trees in the next three years.

Resilience

Businesses have had to get creative this year in order to thrive. Many of the entrepreneurs featured on this year’s list have responded to COVID-19 with agility, reshaping their businesses while showing impressive leadership.

Take Gymshark as an example. Joking on Instagram that it would be rebranding to ‘Homeshark’ during the lockdown, Gymshark teamed up with personal trainers who were struggling to see their clients to broadcast live workouts on its social media channels. The fitness clothing brand also raised £180,000 for the Birmingham Women’s and Children’s hospitals through its ‘sweaty selfie’ campaign.

Take a look at the rest of the businesses on this year’s Sunday Times Virgin Atlantic Fast Track 100 list, and read Richard Branson’s thoughts in the Sunday Times