Paul Drechsler CBE - Vice Chairman of the CBI, Chairman of Bibby Line Group and Chair of the Top 50 judging panel.

In 2018, in partnership with The Telegraph, we searched for the most inspiring business leaders running the UK’s most successful medium-sized firms.

Some 400 nominations later, we’re thrilled to share the full LDC Top 50 Most Ambitious Business Leaders and the Ones to Watch, those leaders tipped for great things - in all its glory – each one a standard-bearer for ambition and entrepreneurial endeavour.

We’re also delighted to confirm the individual judged by our expert panel as the Most Ambitious Business Leader of 2018: Julian Hearn, serial entrepreneur and founder of powdered food brand Huel.

Hear what Paul Drechsler, Vice Chairman of the CBI, had to say on LDC’s Top 50 Most Ambitious Business Leaders of 2018.

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Meet the LDC Top 50 Most Ambitious Business Leaders of 2018

The LDC Top 50 Most Ambitious Business Leaders are people who have demonstrated exporting prowess, introduced new ideas to shake up sectors, driven unprecedented levels of growth and shown real resilience to get to where they are today. Here are the inspiring individuals running Britain’s mid-sized companies.

  1. Julian Hearn
    Most Ambitious

    The Most Ambitious Business Leader Julian Hearn - Founder, Huel

    Julian Hearn, founder of powdered food brand Huel, was named The UK’s Most Ambitious Business Leader of 2018. In just three years, the serial entrepreneur has grown his product into a global sensation, selling 22m meals in 80 countries and with turnover set to reach £45m this year. 

    Huel has recently received its first external investment since launching in 2015, from growth equity investor Highland Europe.

    Judges praised the scale of his ambition, his track record and obvious passion for the brand and his customers.

Meet the Ones To Watch

With more than 400 high-quality nominations from all over the UK, each with their own unique story to tell, the competition for the LDC Top 50 most Ambitious Business Leaders was tough. Here we meet the Ones to Watch – those leaders tipped for great things.

  • Tom Adeyoola - Founder, Metail

    “Tom is leading a revolution in the retail space and digitising the world of fashion. He’s identified a real opportunity to help consumers find clothes that fit them properly and his entrepreneurial flair comes through in every element of his business. He has built a business with huge potential, and it’s already established a foothold in the Asian market.” James Morris, LDC
  • Rupert Broome - Group Managing Director, Killgerm Group

    “Rupert has successfully guided the business through a succession plan, having taken the helm of Killgerm five years ago. In doing so, he’s continued to grow the potential of the business and faced off tough market competition. He’s shown strong leadership skills by rallying staff behind the brand and has achieved considerable organic growth.” Zara Lane, LDC
  • Chris Burke - CEO, Brickendon Consulting

    “Chris is committed to innovation and has enabled the transformational management and technology consultancy to challenge the dominant industry model and establish itself quickly. His secret to success is foregoing the round-the-clock culture his sector is known for and instead building a diverse and creative workforce.” James Morris, LDC
  • Andy Butler - CEO, Specialist Waste Recycling

    “The astronomical rise of Specialist Waste Recycling is all down to customer service. For Andy, a laser focus on building and maintaining relationships with customers and suppliers is the reason why he is the partner of choice for so many. The proof that it’s working is evidenced in the financials, which have seen stellar growth in recent years.” Jonathan Caswell, LDC
  • Michael Campbell - CEO, Weiss Global Group

    “Weiss Global Group has developed a strong reputation, supplying home and living supply chain management and business services. Michael has a clear passion for what he does. He is constantly researching new products or pursuing technology to keep the business at the top of its game. His drive is a key ingredient of the business’ success.” Gillian Sharman, LDC
  • Simon Cashmore - CEO, TCL Group

    “Simon has worked tirelessly to build TCL Group, adding value and scale with a series of acquisitions and organic growth initiatives. It’s now one of the fastest growing landscape services and estate management providers in the country, but this achievement hasn’t put the reigns on Simon’s ambition. He’s mapped out a plan to build new services into its core business model and make further acquisitions to deliver future growth.” John Green, LDC
  • Owen Davies - CEO, Enthuse

    “Owen has vast experience in the media sector and has built a portfolio of market-leading hobby titles which are today enjoyed by thousands, from engineering enthusiasts to stamp collectors. He’s scaled the business by completing a series of acquisitions and has a bold vision for its future. His hard work has driven the brand globally, with its titles enjoyed by readers over in the US.” Jonathan Caswell, LDC
  • James Duez - Co-Founder, Rainbird Technologies

    “James is a true innovator, which has caught the attention of large multinational businesses. With 20 years’ experience in founding several disruptive and impressive tech companies, James has found a winning formula at Rainbird where the focus is on accuracy and precision with its AI powered automation platform.” James Robinson, LDC
  • David Excell - Founder, Featurespace

    “David’s determination to make Featurespace a success certainly isn’t in doubt. He’s even relocated to the US to deliver the behavioural technology provider’s international ambitions and that’s just the start. His vision has enabled the business to bring big name financial clients on board, which alongside multiple award wins means the business is on track to transform the field.” James Robinson, LDC
  • Dr Jamie Graves - CEO, ZoneFox

    “Jamie turned his PhD thesis on IT security into an innovative business. He developed a new approach to identifying insider threats, fraud and attacks by analysing human behaviour, and his business now monitors an impressive 35,000 computers a day. With a determination to grow his evidence-based business even further, Jamie has impressed both the judges and investors alike.” Colin Bennett, LDC
  • Ian Griffiths - Co-Founder,

    “Ian certainly isn’t afraid of a challenge. He set out to disrupt the status quo and in just eight years has grown the business into the market leader comparison site for car repairs and services. A former investment banker, he’s putting his data skills to use by harnessing artificial intelligence to power the business’ growth plans and is already delivering encouraging returns.” Zara Lane, LDC
  • Sue Grindrod - CEO, Albert Dock Liverpool

    “The profile of Royal Albert Dock Liverpool has grown substantially over the past few years. This is down to the tenacity of chief executive Sue to drive the organisation forwards. She has been pivotal in building local partnerships, driving visitor numbers and leading overall strategy. Her enthusiasm for the Dock’s potential is clear and she is bringing that vision to life.” Gillian Sharman, LDC
  • Phil Hall - CEO, Mirus Aircraft Seating

    “Despite being just three years old, Mirus has already made a name for itself in the aviation sector. Phil’s wealth of experience in the motorsport industry has been instrumental in helping the business win lucrative international contracts, which have catapulted it onto the world stage. His bold plan to disrupt the market is already delivering strong returns, and he’s a trusted pair of hands to continue the business’ run of success.” James Robinson, LDC
  • Willie Harcourt-Cooze - Founder, Willie’s Cacao

    “Willie has taken his product from a cacao farm in Venezuela to the shelves of the UK’s supermarkets – and he’s not stopping there. Driven by big ambitions, he isn’t afraid to get stuck in or work a night shift in his quest to bring high-quality, ethical and affordable chocolate to the masses. The business has achieved rapid growth, and the global enterprise shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.” Simon Hemley, LDC
  • Paul Harrison and Steve Witt - Co-Founders, Not Just Travel

    “Paul and Steve demonstrate pure entrepreneurial spirit, and their desire to help others launch and nurture their own travel business is evidenced by the scale achieved to date – they have recruited more than 400 franchisees and this is set to hit 600 by 2020. With a blueprint that works, we have high hopes the business will continue to thrive as it looks to move outside of its core leisure market into corporate travel.” Jonathan Caswell, LDC
  • Darren Jobling - CEO, ZeroLight

    “Darren’s game developer expertise has forced the automotive industry into the fast lane. Building on his previous experience in video gaming, he’s created a strong client base with big-name brands like BMW and Lamborghini. Darren has successfully tapped into the customer trend for personalised visual experiences and is leading the way with the worlds most advanced car configurator solution.” Zara Lane, LDC
  • Matthew Lee - Co-Founder, Shopper Media Group

    “A proven entrepreneur, Matthew has taken an innovative and niche retail marketing idea and turned it into a successful business. He started the business out of his bedroom, alongside his co-founder, and is determined to make it a success. It’s clear he’s already created a great working culture and the team is continuing to grow.” James Morris, LDC
  • Ryan Maughan - Managing Director, AVID Technology Group

    “Former engineer Ryan spotted a gap in the market off the back of the ever-shifting focus towards sustainable technology. He’s stayed ahead of the field in developing and manufacturing smart electric and hybrid vehicle components ever since and is on a mission to create a cleaner, greener future. He’s secured funding for his ideas at each stage and his products are continuing to attract attention.” Gareth Marshall, LDC
  • Tristram Mayhew - Chief Gorilla, Go Ape

    “Tristram defines passion. This trait is nowhere more visible than in his start-up ‘Go Ape’ – a company that has put smiles on the faces of people of all ages with its adrenaline-packed activities – and has driven what was once a small business to a nationally-recognised company with more than 30 locations across the UK.” Richard Whitwell, LDC
  • Natasha Mudhar - CEO, Sterling Media

    “Sterling Media has built an enviable client set, working on high-profile campaigns across the globe. Natasha’s ambitious nature has fast-tracked the business and her work in championing diversity in the workplace and industry are commendable. She’s committed to growing the business and is well on her way to even further success.” Alex Wilby, LDC
  • Christian Owens - CEO, Paddle

    “Christian has an entrepreneurial background and at just 23 years old, he isn’t afraid to take on the industry stalwarts. He’s got a bold vision to make his software-selling platform the go-to for companies and he’s well on his way to achieving this. With over 600 businesses already signed-up, it’s quickly becoming one to keep a close eye on given Christian’s achievements in such a short space of time.” James Morris, LDC
  • Sarat Pediredla - CEO, hedgehog lab

    “Sarat is a true self-starter. Having taught himself programming he now advises businesses on transforming customer’s digital experiences. Having had both personal and professional setbacks along the way, it’s only driven him on and he now has bigger than ever ambitions for the future. With rapid growth on the cards, he’s committed to cementing the award-winning company’s position.” Zara Lane, LDC
  • Adam Pikett - CEO, SportPursuit

    “Adam left a high-flying job in the City to take a chance on SportPursuit, and the decision is paying off. His determination to succeed, combined with a keen understanding of what customers want from sportswear, is making the business the go-to sales platform in his sector.” James Morris, LDC
  • Martin Port - CEO, BigChange

    “Martin is no stranger to building a business – he’s already got a leading telematics company to his name. He’s now transforming workplace management software with his in-house technology credentials. He’s not one to hide in the background and is committed to championing the business at every opportunity. With the business’ reach in the UK growing, it’s now setting its sights across the Atlantic.” Zara Lane, LDC
  • Richard Potter - CEO, Peak

    “Richard immediately came across as a highly driven business leader who is constantly thinking outside the box and pushing boundaries. He identified a gap in the market and went after it, and his early successes and creativity have already caught the eye of Silicon Valley.” Kelsey Bayley, LDC
  • Lewis Reeves - CEO, VIGA

    “Lewis is young, ambitious and not afraid to take the fight directly to his competitors. He’s grown VIGA rapidly, streamlining data collection for businesses and offering a time-saving and cost-effective solution. He started out as a one-man band and has gradually built a team around him – all of whom are invested in the business’ success.” James Morris, LDC
  • Jonathan Richards - CEO, breatheHR

    “'Simple, secure and cost effective,’ are the words Jonathan Richard uses to describe his HR software system. His work has been crucial in enabling businesses of all sizes to move away from traditional spreadsheet HR processes, transforming the way they work with a simple, automated SaaS system that takes the pain out of processes.” Jonathan Caswell, LDC
  • Toby Roberts - Managing Director, Safety Media

    “People are the priority for Toby Roberts. He’s cultivated an environment people want to work in, in a bid to attract the best talent and inspire staff within the organisation – and the results are showing. By practising this winning formula, he’s secured some of the best clients in the industry and set the business on a fast-track growth path.” Dewi Hughes, LDC
  • Shahid Sheikh OBE - Managing Director, Clifton Packaging

    “Shahid has accelerated Clifton Packaging’s growth strategy and the business now exports to 11 countries worldwide. His passion for the family business has motivated him throughout, and his energy and passion are palpable. He’s set the business ambitious targets, but with a great business model already in place, these are well within reach.” James Robinson, LDC
  • Paul Sulyok - CEO, Green Man Gaming

    “A strong leader, Paul has grown his team to build one of the largest multi-platform game retailers in the world. Not one to be content with his achievements, he’s constantly driving the business towards his next ambition. The success Paul has achieved to date has impressed investors and he’s in a great position to target the next stage of growth.” James Morris, LDC
  • Richard Thorpe - Group Executive Director, Service Matters

    “Richard has made a big impact on in a small timeframe. An experienced leader, he’s got ambitious plans for the business’ future, which is one of the largest independent facilities services companies, and he’s recognised for his innovative approach. His business background goes back to university, where he launched a technology business and that entrepreneurial experience is a great asset.” Gillian Sharman, LDC
  • Chris Vincent - Managing Director, V4 Woodflooring

    “Having put the brakes on his career as a racing driver, Chris started V4 Woodflooring in his early 20’s. He has since grown the business to a £15m turnover firm with a team of over 25 specialists. With an eye for innovation, Chris has expanded his service line and launched a first-to-market product concrete floor product.” Jonathan Caswell, LDC
  • Andrew Wallin - CEO, Ed Broking

    “Andrew brings with him a strong corporate track record, coupled with the attitude of a start-up disruptor. And this is proving the perfect combination. He’s built a global network of wholesale insurance and reinsurance brokers by being on top of his game and is building a first-class, independent venture as a result.” James Morris, LDC
  • Jeff Ward - CEO, Centurion Safety Products

    “Jeff has transformed Centurion Safety Products into a high-growth business. His emphasis on exporting, products and innovation has given the business a real advantage in the safety market. His vision is clear and he’s determined to deliver it.” James Robinson, LDC
  • Harrison Woods - CEO, YourParkingSpace

    “Harrison has already achieved television fame, with a successful appearance on Dragon’s Den, and with YourParkingSpace he’s onto another bright idea. He’s been busy forcing the parking industry to embrace technology over the last four years. His parking space platform has already onboarded thousands of locations and big-name clients, and he’s determined to grow the business into the billions.” James Morris, LDC
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Backing Ambition Since 1981

LDC is all about backing ambitious management teams with capital and support to help them grow bigger and better businesses. 

Having backed 600 management teams over more than 35 years, we’ve seen first-hand, just how ambitious business leaders with a clear vision can inspire success and grow their businesses, no matter the economic climate. 

LDC is committed to investing £1.2billion in UK medium sized businesses over the next three years.