In brief: the European start-ups thriving despite the economic slowdown and Brexit

Brexit and economic slowdown fears might be dominating the headlines but entrepreneurs behind Europe’s fastest growing firms aren’t burying their heads in the sand.

“Amid talk of trade wars, Brexit fallout and an economic slowdown, there is one encouraging business counterpoint: the fastest growing companies in Europe continue to thrive, ” the Financial Times’ executive news editor Daniel Thomas (@DanielThomasLDN) wrote yesterday.

The newspaper is behind the FT 1000, an annual ranking of firms judged by revenue growth. The ranking is in its third year, and firms on this year’s list were judged - by research firm Statista - on their revenue growth rate between 2014 and 2017.

Firms on the continent are likely to be concerned with the possibility of a global trade war. However the researchers found the lowest ranked firm on the list had a compound annual growth rate in revenue of 37.7% - up from 34.6% in the previous ranking.

Which were the fastest-growing firms in Europe over the past few years?

Point-of-sale car finance firm Blue Motor Finance, food delivery start-up Deliveroo and Taxify, a ride-hailing firm from Estonia, topped the list this year.

Elibar, a football club representing a town of just 27,000 inhabitants, joined the list for the second year in a row.

HelloFresh, the UK-based meal kit delivery start-up, topped the list in 2017, while Deliveroo was in the top spot in 2018.

Which sector dominates the list?

The FT 1000, which is in its third year, is dominated by the technology sector, followed by support services and construction. Of all the firms in the list, 149 were technology firms this year – more if you include fintech (financial technology) and ecommerce companies.

Alice Hancock (@alicemhancock), leisure industries reporter,  wrote in the FT yesterday: “Despite concerns about consumer spending, the number of companies in the list defining their business as either ecommerce or retail was remarkably consistent at 114, compared with 113 last year. Tellingly, perhaps, slightly more of these plumped for being described specifically as ecommerce rather than retail ventures.”

Where are the hubs for fast-growing firms?

The country with the most company headquarters is Germany, at 230.

London is the top city, with 63 of the firms based there – down from 74 last year. The city is followed by Paris, Milan and Berlin.

People might conclude that London’s slip in numbers could be down to Brexit.

However MoneyLens contributor Charlotte, who works in fintech and innovation, said: “I think there is strong pipeline of well-funded companies with a lot of client opportunities in London, so I expect the UK to continue to be a leader in fintech.”

Berlin has seen an increase in fast growing businesses on the list – from 20 last year to 24 this year.

German start-ups received more money in 2018 than ever before, according to analysis by professional services firm EY.

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