Four-fifths of a group of “high-potential” Cornish SMEs have grown their revenues in the last three years, according to new research by BGF, the UK and Ireland’s most active investor.

The research calculates growth through changes in turnover and employees among Britain’s private companies with revenues between £3 million and £150 million, a category of 13,286 businesses nationwide, 937 of which are based in the south west.

Four in five of the 50 SMEs based in Cornwall (81%) increased their revenues over this period, the UK’s sixth largest proportion of growing businesses and much higher than the 74% national average. These Cornish businesses have collectively experienced turnover growth of 17% since 2015.

77% of businesses in this group in Cornwall are actively hiring, the highest proportion in the UK. Employee numbers have risen by 13% over the last three years to more than 12,700 employees.

Ned Dorbin, an investor at BGF, said: “It’s hugely encouraging to see Cornwall’s SMEs reporting such exceptional levels of growth.

“These Cornish businesses represent productivity, activity and progress, and it’s more important than ever that they have access to the backing they need to accelerate that growth. Unlocking capital to fast-track the growth of businesses like these can have a major impact on industry, the economy and society.”

The data has been released as part of BGF’s ‘Ready for Business’ campaign, which will see BGF confidently advocate for continued growth, committing to entrepreneurs and investing in the age of uncertainty.

The research finds that Seasalt, a Cornish clothing lifestyle brand, has grown its employee numbers by 59% over the past three years, the highest growth in the county.

The SME, which received a BGF investment of £11.5 million in August 2018, has added more jobs to Cornwall during this period than any other business and is consistently opening stores across the UK, including most recently in Bristol and Lincoln, bucking the overall market decline currently evident in high street retail.

Seasalt CEO Paul Hayes said: “Having our roots in Cornwall has proven to be a defining characteristic of our success.

“The Cornish heritage resonates with customers across the UK and internationally – those who have holidayed here over the years and carry fond memories of what the county has to offer.

“We are proud to be part of this success story for the region and applaud our peers who are also making strides in boosting Cornwall’s economy beyond the traditional tourist market.”

BGF’s ‘Ready for Business’ report is available to download here. The research looks at publicly-reported data. Given current reporting thresholds, this group of companies is likely to be much larger – BGF’s proprietary database indicates that there could be an additional 4,000 companies, increasing the size of this group by 30%.

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