Young Guns revisited: Catching up with classes of 2003-04


Adam Balon Company: Innocent Drinks Focus: Smoothie making Class of 2003

Another healthy year for Innocent. With a vision to become ‘Europe’s favourite little juice company’, 2005 has seen launches in Holland, Belgium and France and turnover double to £30m. Primary focus remains in the UK, though, with a new smoothie offering for kids and growth in its takehome juice range. With the Innocent brand continuing to boom – 100,000 people turned out for its free festival Fruitstock and its first TV ad campaign has been well received – Balon predicts growth of 65% for 2006.

Graham Bucknall Company: Advanti Focus: IT Support Class of 2004

Bucknall reports that the last year has been “very, very stressful” but ultimately successful. Having raised a £2.5m mixture of debt and equity finance, Advanti acquired established IT services firm Scotsys, trebling its workforce and bolstering its market hold overnight. Turnover of £4.5m will grow to £7m this year and Bucknall is looking for that to more than double to £15m in 2006.

James Murray Company: Alternative Networks Focus: Telecommunications Class of 2004

In a “momentous” year for Murray, he negotiated the departure of co-founder Chris Wilson and took Alternative Networks onto AIM with a market cap of £44.3m. Murray says the listing has given the company greater flexibility for growth and is looking at possible acquisitions. Turnover for the first half of 2005 was up 15% to £22.4m, with pre-tax profits of £1.9 million.

Al Gosling Company: Extreme Group Focus: TV and Retail Class of 2004

It’s been a year of “getting things done” for Gosling’s expanding Extreme Group, which now comprises of 10 companies and employs 247 people. The major launch has been Extreme Mob, a youth focused pre-pay mobile phone service which required substantial fundraising. Gosling plans two new TV channels before the end of the year and hopes to open eight more retail stores in the next six months. Turnover for 2005 remains at £24m, but Gosling expects to see it exceed £35m next year.

Paul Hawkins Company: Hawk-Eye Innovations Focus: Visual Technology Class of 2004

It’s been a busy year for Hawk-Eye – and not just because of the Ashes-induced cricket frenzy that swept the nation this summer! Turnover has doubled for the third successive year to £2.5m and Hawkins has also acquired a US sensor company as a way of entering new overseas markets.

Liz Jackson Company: Great Guns Marketing Focus: Telemarketing Class of 2004

Jackson has attracted some great coverage in the last 12 months, but focus hasn’t shifted from core business and Great Guns Marketing has continued to expand impressively. Nine call centres covering the UK and Ireland will generate more than £3.5m this year and further growth is forecast for 2006. A book charting totally blind Jackson’s inspirational story will be released later this year.

Mark Mills Company: Cardpoint Focus: ATM Machines Class of 2003

AIM-listed Cardpoint acquired its biggest competitor Moneybox for £87.3m in July topping off what Mills describes as a “great, challenging” 12 months. Turnover has increased from £35m to £50m with targets of £100m for 2006. That’s comfortably more than 10 times the revenues it was bringing in when Mills featured in Young Guns two years ago!

Dan Somers Company: VC Net Focus: Videoconferencing Class of 2004

A year of steady progression for VC Net has seen Somers establish business in the US and Germany and build a 25% increase in turnover to £2m. With over 200 blue chip clients, Somers expects a big year in 2006 and predicts a leap in turnover er to £3.6m.

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