Published this weekend, the 3rd annual Sunday Times Lloyds SME Export Track 100 league table ranks Britain’s small and medium-sized (SME) companies with the fastest-growing international sales.

The nine companies headquartered in Scotland (compared to five last year) include seven new entrants to the league table. Their international sales have grown by an average of 62% a year over the last two years to a total of £76m, and together they now employ almost 900 people.

M Squared comes in at number 78 in the list with exports growing to £6.5m last year. M Squared designs and manufactures advanced laser systems and photonics equipment for some of the world's leading research institutions and commercial organisations. Applications include monitoring of pollutants and medical diagnostics. M Squared is also making a name for itself in the development and commercialisation of quantum technologies.

The companies in Scotland appear with businesses from around the UK. This latest research illustrates how closely connected Britain’s export drive is with its trading partners across both the Atlantic and the English Channel. Eighty-five of the companies sell to the continent, making it the most popular market, followed by North America (77).

The league table is sponsored by Lloyds Banking Group, DHL Express and Heathrow Airport, and supported by the government’s Exporting is GREAT campaign. It is compiled by Fast Track, the Oxford-based research and networking events firm.

Gareth Oakley, managing director SME banking at Lloyds Banking Group, the title sponsor, commented:

“For businesses that take the leap to trade overseas, the rewards can be significant – the strong growth achieved by this year’s SME Export Track 100 is proof of that. At Lloyds Banking Group we are committed to helping businesses scale-up and trade internationally, and have pledged to help 5,000 first-time exporters every year until 2020 in support of this. Our International Trade Portal is a valuable source of insight for any businesses looking to explore overseas options”.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said:

“Companies are seizing the huge international demand for innovative UK products and services. We want more businesses to take advantage of this global opportunity, which is why we’re supporting the SME Export Track 100 and why we launched our new trade hub,, providing free local advice, financial and regulatory support and live export opportunities to businesses across the UK.” 

The UK picture

The UK picture This year’s SME Export Track 100 achieved, on average, international sales growth of 72% a year over two years to a total of £677m. They employ more than 8,000 staff, having added almost 3,000 jobs over the period.

The southeast of England is the most popular location for company HQs at 23, followed by London (21). Of the remainder, 13 companies are based in the northeast, nine each in the Midlands, northwest and Scotland,seven in the southwest, four in Wales, three in the East and two in Northern Ireland.

The full league table was published as a broadsheet supplement in the business section of The Sunday Times on 26 February, both in print and in the digital edition, and on

@ST_SMEexport | #SMEexport100

For further information please contact:

Ying Chen
Head of Research Operations
Fast Track
01865 297100

Betsy Jones
020 7199 6181
07963 372757

About Fast Track

Fast Track has published league tables of top-performing private companies with The Sunday Times for the past 20 years. The company was founded and is run by Dr Hamish Stevenson, who also holds an associate fellowship at Green Templeton College, Oxford University.

League table criteria

Companies had to be registered in the UK and be independent, unquoted and ultimate holding companies. International sales growth was measured by compound annual growth (CAGR) over their latest two financial years.

Total sales had to be between £5m and £25m in their latest financial year, and exports had to account for at least 20% of total sales (companies with sales greater than £25m are covered in our International Track 200). International sales had to exceed £150,000 in the base year and not show a drop from the penultimate to the latest year. Firms had to make an operating profit in their latest available accounts.

A minimum of 25 weeks’ trading in their base year and latest years was required. For accounting periods not equal to a year, financials have been presented on an annual basis.

Excluded companies include those with total sales of more than £25m (covered by our sister league table, International Track 200), LLPs, pure property and financial trading companies. The research was carried out by Fast Track principally between October 2016 and January 2017. The majority of companies were interviewed by the Fast Track research team.

The research is based on the limited available data on international sales. Many firms that file full accounts do not disclose geographical breakdown of sales, many others file abbreviated accounts, which are not necessarily required to be audited.


Lloyds Banking Group Lloyds Banking Group 
DHL Express DHL Express
Heathrow Airport Heathrow
Exporting is GREAT