A lesson in how to grow Real fast

The TV series Big Brother has proved lucrative for website designer Victoria Real, as it is crowned the fastest-growing private company in the UK.

The TV series Big Brother has proved lucrative for website designer Victoria Real, as it is crowned the fastest-growing private company in the UK.

The Brighton-based company, which developed and ran the websites for the series, came first in the "Hot 100" survey, by Real Business magazine in association with D&B, a business information provider. The survey ranks the UK's private companies in order of growth rates.

As the UK went mad over Paul and Helen and what they got up to in the "snug", after overdosing on the celebrity version, won by Jack Dee, addicted viewers turned to the website. They could watch the house any time of the day through webcams, as well as vote housemates out and get info on the housemates. In the 10 weeks the series was shown last year, the website recorded 745 million hits.

Half the company is owned by Endemol, the production company that developed Big Brother. But it does work for other organisations including Thomson Holidays and the Scottish Parliament.

Victoria Real has achieved growth of an average of 183 per cent per year over the past four years. In 2000 it had sales of £6.6m and profits of £840,000. The company was set up in 1990 by founders Rob Love and Richard Daws, while they were students in Leeds. The company took off after they produced interactive television for the 1994 World Cup.

Another web developer, Oyster Partners, was in the fourth position with average sales growth of 135.9 per cent. In fact, the most successful sector was telecoms, media and technology.

Other winners were Tangible Benefit, a computer hardware supplier, which took second place, and Healthcare at Home, which provides nursing care in a patient's own home, which was third. It won the title of the most successful "Hot 100" company because it was in the No 1 slot last year.

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