Three North East businesses are now among the UK’s fastest-growing companies.

The 2024 edition of The Sunday Times 100 – an annual ranking of Britain’s fastest-growing private companies - has placed Sunderland food supplement brand Rheal in third place with sales of £19.8m and growth of 243.02 per cent, then Newcastle tech company Opencast  at 75 with £49.9m sales showing 76.25 per cent growth and the Disturbia womenswear retailer from Northumberland is in 84th place with sales of £18.5m, and 69.67 per cent growth.

Rheal was started in 2016, when founders Sean Ali and Charlotte Bailey were students at university. They were on the hunt for natural ingredients to help improve Charlotte's health, as she struggled for energy and had poor immune health and digestive issues since being diagnosed with Coeliac Disease. So they began incorporating different superfoods into their diets and set out to create a range of products.

But one year later Sean was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the age of just 26. He immediately began chemotherapy, radiotherapy and has been in remission since 2019.

Opencast was founded in Newcastle in 2012 and has since grown to nearly 500 people. It remains headquartered in Byker, with city hub offices including in London, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Opencast Founder and Chair Charlie Hoult (left) with Chief Executive Tom LawsonOpencast Founder and Chair Charlie Hoult (left) with Chief Executive Tom Lawson (Image: Opencast)

Chief Executive Tom Lawson said: “To be ranked at 75 in this prestigious list is a reflection of our rapid growth and expansion from our North East base to become a UK-wide business. Over the past three years we’ve been able to report an average growth rate of 76.25 per cent.”

Tom, a Harvard Business School graduate who has led Opencast since 2020, added: “Over the past year we have scaled rapidly, with revenues up from £37 million to £50 million. This year we’re growing further, targeting revenues of £60 million. Our work with clients in government and business focuses on improving their digital experience and operational performance, supporting critical systems and services used by millions of people.”

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“Our success is not just about our revenue and people numbers. It also lies in the impact of our work on our people, our clients and wider society. It is a result of a huge team effort and I could not be prouder of our team.”

Opencast’s Founder and Chair Charlie Hoult added: “It's great to fly the flag for North East England in this ranking, as our region is often under-represented in national schemes.

“We’re determined to prove the levelling-up mantra that ‘expertise is everywhere, opportunity is not’ – drawing our inspiring team from people across the UK and beyond. We have hubs of talented colleagues in major cities, and are fully hybrid onshore.”