Best business: Brompton

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The Independent Online

In 'good omens', Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett wrote of a demon called Crowley who has given up getting individuals to blaspheme and has instead spent his time inventing the M25 and other hells. His policy is to create situations where thousands of people will blaspheme at once. But if the demon invented the M25, then surely his counterpart – the angel Aziraphale – invented the Brompton bicycle company.

I think those of us designing products for sale have a responsibility to enable our customers to get a greener lifestyle. In Brompton's case, they have created a practical, folding, small-wheeled bike that has become the badge of green living. Hand-made in Britain, Brompton bicycles are light and easy to fold –and their individual design encourages people to cycle to places they may not normally consider. The Brompton style also means you can take your bike on buses, on trains and into your office to make sure it stays safe. The range of bikes the company provides also shows a lot of thought and consideration – from incredibly light titanium frames for speed-conscious cyclists to slightly heavier (and cheaper) frames and those with more comfortable saddles. There's even the option to get a longer stem for taller cyclists, or bright colours for those wanting to stand out.

The bikes are built in the UK, so they don't have to be flown in. And as Brompton is a private company, freed from the restraints of corporate shareholders, they are able to focus purely on the customer. In short, any company that so successfully encourages people to ditch their cars and take up cycling deserves to be celebrated.

Mark Constantine is MD and co-founder of Lush Cosmetics. For more information, see