Featured | South West

Following hundreds of nominations and intensive judging, Business Leader can now reveal the top 10 Trailblazers in the South West. These outstanding entrepreneurs and business leaders are pioneers and disruptors, defying convention and burning their own path – and making a significant impact in their respective markets and the south west community.

CEO Prezola

Prezola is the award-winning online wedding gift list service where couples can choose gifts from 30,000 products provided by 300 separate retailers, alongside a honeymoon fund, cash gifts and charity donations; all on one list.

The business was launched by husband and wife team Dom and Ali Beaven from their home in Bath in 2010.

Founded in 2010 the business shows exceptional growth. Annual sales rose from £70k to £240k, on to £2.4m and most recently £5m in the year to August 2015; a CAGR of 315%. The business is set to break the £10m barrier in 2016, making Prezola the largest dedicated e-commerce platform in the UK wedding industry.

Managing Director of CFH Docmail

Dave Broadway is Managing Director of CFH Docmail, the largest hybrid mail company in the UK with a turnover of £42m, up 37% year on year.

He has transformed the fortunes of the family business by diversifying from conventional print into hybrid mail; allowing businesses of every size to save money and, as importantly, reduce their impact on the environment by providing a mailing service which allows customers to print and send post from their PC.

Sitma (1 of 1)PAUL BROWN:
MD Mail Handling International

MHI has morphed from the mail packing business Paul established in 1993, in the days before the internet, to a business that routes in excess of 25,000 e-commerce postal items a day to the four corners of the world.

Paul has innovated constantly since he set up and the firm and generates 25 per cent of its energy on-site. Global in its reach, Paul has built a business that employs 88 people, has a turnover in the multi-millions, and is helping to re-build and re-position the under-loved South side of Bristol

SIMON BROWN:Forrest Brown Sept2015-61
Director Forrest Brown

From a standing start in 2013, with no external funding, Simon has established a fast-growing business as an R&D tax credit consultancy. Benchmarking against a turnover of £1.2m for the 2014 financial year, in the 2015 accounting period the company posted revenue of £3.2m, which represented growth of 166%.

Under Simon’s stewardship, the firm also recovered over £25.5m in R&D tax credits for its clients in 2015. In a short period of time Simon has seen Forrest Brown move to new 3,500 sq ft offices, see staff count hit 21 and recruit serial entrepreneur Mark Mason as Chairman.

Founder Neighbourly

Nick Davies is a Bristol-based entrepreneur and founder of – a social platform that connects local community projects with companies that want to make a difference.

Under Nick’s guidance, Neighbourly has inspired companies including Marks & Spencer, Starbucks, British Airways and many more SMEs to use the platform to make a meaningful difference in the communities they serve, empower employees, and bring transparency to their CSR programmes.

Since launch, companies have pledged a combined total of over £2m and backed over 485 projects.

CEO Open Bionics

Joel has built an award-winning company recognised globally for its outstanding innovation and contribution to the fields of robotics and healthcare. This year Open Bionics has made Bloomberg’s top UK most innovative companies list, Fast Company’s top 50 global innovative companies list, and Robotics Business Reviews’ global top 50 most innovative robotics companies list.

Last year Joel won the James Dyson award for engineering and has represented the UK’s most innovative robotics alongside his award-winning co-founder, Samantha Payne, at conferences around the world.

Anna Office2016ANNA PEPLER:
MD HR Dept

Anna (now 28) started with the HR Dept as a placement student seven years ago and within 5 years was made a director and shareholder, before being named MD in January 2016.
With relentless energy, Anna has innovated new solutions around employee benefits and has been largely responsible for a 50 per cent increase in profits at the company in the past twelve months, with turnover climbing by 11.4 per cent during that time.

Since 2014 Anna has also sat on the board of a charity (Young Enterprise Agency). She is passionate about supporting young people into work and giving them the skills to be able to do so.

MD Heat Recruitment

Starting out in his back bedroom in 2006 – following twelve years in the Royal Marines – Steve has enjoyed a meteoric rise as MD of Heat Recruitment. The company now employ over 50 staff and recently struck a deal to move to bigger premises in Bristol. A flurry of awards have earmarked Steve and Heat Recruitment out as true trailblazers in the recruitment industry and turnover has steadily increased by 123% in 2012 to 142% in 2013 to 212% in 2014 and 228% in 2015.

Hayden Rushton Britannia Windows - 2HAYDEN RUSHTON:
MD, Britannia Windows

By the middle of 2011, the double glazing industry was suffering from a 25% drop in turnover and most companies faced serious cash flow issues.

In a mature industry, established in the early 80s, with a lot of business owners at retirement age. Hayden spotted and opportunity for rapid growth through acquisition. Between June 2011 and 2015, group turnover grew from under £5m to £25m and staff numbers grew from under 50 to 300.

A modern approach, innovation and exponential growth allowed Hayden to lay a solid basis to deliver organic and acquisitive growth moving forward.

NICK STURGE:Pic by Guy Newman/KOR. Nick Sturge, the new Chairman of the IOD
Director Engine Shed

Nick is the executive director of The Science Research Foundation (SRF), which operates the Bristol SET squared Centre and Engine Shed.

When Nick became a director of SRF, it had a turnover of £250k pa and had no management accounting practices.

It is now close to £1m turnover, with a strategy in place to become a £2m turnover business within the next 3 years. A true trailblazer, Nick has established a reputation as being the entrepreneur that entrepreneurs go to for advice.

Did you enjoy reading this content?  To get more great content like this subscribe to our magazine

Reader's Comments

Comments related to the current article

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *