Private firm growth drifts to the South

Private companies in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the North-east are struggling for growth as the centre of business power moves "inexorably southwards", according to a report published this week.

The Investec Hot 100 of fastest-growing private companies includes 49 firms in London and the South-east, such as sushi takeaway chain Wasabi, insurance claims handler Parabis, and creative agency TBA, which has worked on the Rugby World Cup and Stereophonics concerts. The survey, which has run since 1997, is published by Real Business and The Independent is the media sponsor.

There are only 12 companies from outside England and in the North-east. However, the North-west did well, with 19 businesses included, and had the fastest-growing company by revenue in Merseyside-based residential care group Potensial.

The firms are judged by revenue increased by percentage over four years. Potensial grew 146 per cent to more than £15.2m, edging out Altenergy, a solar energy specialist based in the capital that saw sales soar 137 per cent.

The IT services, technology and telecoms sector is the safest bet for success.