Rank Company Location Year end % annual profit growth Latest profits £000 Latest sales £000 Staff Comment
1 HESCO BastionDefence barrier maker Leeds 2005 236.04% 35,598 105,038 218 Former miner protects soldiers worldwide with warzone barrier invention
2 BinomialInsurance underwriter Surrey 2005 175.06% 16,718 80,671 408 Sold subsidiary BDML Connect to Capita Insurance for £35m last July
3 Shoe Zone GroupShoe retailer Leicester 2004 147.52% 11,252 111,221 2,540 Claims to sell 30 pairs of shoes a minute at an average price of £8
4 BetfairOnline bookmaker West London 2005 145.81% 23,185 107,114 423 Says it processes 300 bets a second through its website
5 Churchill Retirement LivingHousebuilder Hampshire 2004 133.96% 6,433 24,589 81 Profits boosted by switch from building thatched cottages to retirement flats
6 Steel Plate & SectionsSteel processor West Midlands 2005 125.98% 11,087 63,823 81 Supplied 120,000 tonnes of steel on three continents last year
7 Woodford GroupBrownfield land developer Lancashire 2005 124.56% 15,176 57,063 183 Sold decontaminated steelworks site to Wimpey for £12m last year
8 Norwich City Football ClubFootball club Norwich 2005 122.13% 9,147 37,425 201 Co-owner Delia Smith caters for weddings and banquets at club premises
9 ABICaravan maker East Yorkshire 2005 113.08% *8,726 *52,131 341 Bought out of receivership in 1998, now makes 4,000 caravans a year
10 Drive AssistCar lessor Tamworth 2005 112.13% 12,888 72,334 932 Hires out 10,000 vehicles a month, mainly to car accident victims
11 Signature RestaurantsRestaurant operator Central London 2004 110.39% 4,731 42,040 1,101 Belgo and Strada chains bought from Channel 4 chairman for £57m
12 RobertsonConstruction services provider Stirling 2004 104.66% 7,578 140,954 701 Has won 10 PFI contracts worth £245m to build local schools and hospitals
13 Next Generation ClubsLeisure club operator Hatfield 2004 104.37% 8,194 35,360 892 David Lloyd’s second fitness chain is for sale at a reported £200m
14 First OilOil and gas producer Aberdeen 2005 103.40% 6,863 22,730 10 Started with just one oilfield, now runs eight, supplying Total, BP and Shell
15 Virgin ActiveHealth club operator Central London 2005 101.75% *31,345 153,314 4,984 Returned £135m to Bridgepoint in 2005, three times its original investment
16 GladedaleHousebuilder Dunfermline 2004 100.90% 55,444 348,286 639 Working on the £350m development of Edinburgh’s Quartermile
17 Stead & SimpsonShoe retailer Leicester 2004 97.54% 10,468 140,318 3,544 £50m secondary buyout in December backed by Bank of Scotland
18 Ossian Retail GroupClothing and homeware retailer Glasgow 2005 93.60% 5,117 112,567 2,412 Boosted sales and profits by investing £2m in refurbishing 44 stores
19 PrometheanEducational technology developer Blackburn 2004 91.81% 11,269 69,366 313 Half a million children in 45 countries are taught using its whiteboard
20 EVO Business SuppliesBusiness supplies distributor Sheffield 2004 90.95% 13,702 218,465 975 MBO of founding family for £85m in 2004, backed by L&G Ventures
21 Pret A MangerSandwich shop operator Central London 2004 88.89% 9,494 152,515 2,958 Runs 130 sandwich shops worldwide, including 10 in America
22 InvotecCircuit board maker Staffordshire 2004 88.30% 3,443 28,362 431 Sold 3m circuit boards last year to customers including BAE Systems
23 E-netDigital media wholesaler Edinburgh 2005 87.21% 4,645 67,249 60 Bonuses to top sales staff include weekends in Dubai
24 Constantine HoldingsConglomerate Surrey 2004 86.72% 7,258 68,581 549 Fourth-generation family business has 19th-century origins in shipping
25 HampdenInsurance consultancy Central London 2004 86.13% 6,139 18,318 66 Manages insurance firms that are in the process of closing down
26 UnicomTelecoms services provider Manchester 2004 85.64% 3,270 13,186 555 Claims to supply 350m telephone minutes to 50,000 small firms each year
27 Salford Van HireVehicle hirer Manchester 2004 85.37% 5,395 40,645 161 Founder moved from Italy and started out by running lamp factory
28 Elite HomesHousebuilder Merseyside 2005 85.10% 10,826 46,375 83 Merseyside builder redeveloped old Skelmersdale United ground for houses
29 KeepmoatHousing regeneration specialist South Yorkshire 2005 84.03% 34,234 334,685 1,967 Refurbished 35,000 houses last year for the Decent Homes scheme
30 Elta GroupFan maker West Midlands 2005 83.87% 3,277 31,465 291 More than 75% of sales are generated overseas
31 LWCDrinks distributor Manchester 2004 80.72% 4,362 68,033 243 Is building a £4m, 5-acre drinks warehouse in Manchester
32 Ardmore ConstructionBuilder North London 2004 80.33% 11,939 145,886 176 Secured a £7m contract to extend Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum
33 Albon EngineeringAutomotive component maker Essex 2004 80.04% 7,733 46,516 338 Launched from a cattle shed and now supplies Volvo and JCB
34 SpreadexSpread betting operator St Albans 2005 79.34% 6,073 13,827 58 Founder started out as his school’s unofficial bookie
35 DysonAppliance manufacturer Wiltshire 2004 78.85% 97,331 426,240 1,437 Sold its G Force cleaner for £1,200 apiece in Japan 20 years ago
36 O’Halloran & O’BrienConstruction contractor Surrey 2005 78.72% 3,041 38,441 50 Prepares building sites for clients such as Bovis Homes, Wimpey, Barratt
37 ESRI (UK)Software developer Aylesbury 2004 78.68% 5,181 69,970 402 Created 3D models of ancient sites for Channel 4’s Big Roman Dig
38 Caledonian Building SystemsModular builder Nottinghamshire 2005 78.49% 8,006 81,362 300 Has contract with MoD to build high-security accommodation units
39 Bolton Wanderers FCFootball club Bolton 2005 78.17% †5,718 †52,067 190 Almost went bust eight years ago, now playing in Premiership
40 Greeting Card GroupGreeting card retailer Peterborough 2004 78.10% 6,211 83,330 2,660 Acquired larger rival Card Warehouse in 2003 for £45m
41 Azzurri CommunicationsTelecoms services provider Walsall 2005 77.24% 7,957 81,681 556 Has bought 15 companies in five years with backing from 3i
42 Draper ToolsTool wholesaler Hampshire 2004 77.02% 7,785 54,067 395 Founder started out selling tools from a barrow in London markets
43 Footwork ProductionsManagement of Beckham brand Central London 2004 76.88% 13,435 17,336 3 Endorsements make Beckham one of Britain’s highest-paid sportsmen
44 River IslandFashion retailer West London 2004 76.37% 111,011 595,449 10,179 Started as small East End shop selling womenswear, now runs 220 stores
45 Regard PartnershipCare home operator Southwest London 2005 76.10% 4,021 25,108 792 Two former nurses run 120 care homes for mentally handicapped
46 LFF GroupOil equipment supplier Basildon, Essex 2004 75.22% 4,876 74,916 111 Set up subsidiary in Kazakhstan to supply Caspian Sea area
47 MalthurstPetrol station operator Essex 2005 74.96% 6,649 330,486 58 Acquired 25 petrol stations from struggling operator Fuelforce last year
48 Jacobson GroupFootwear manufacturer and distributor Lancashire 2004 74.49% 13,616 63,635 254 Owns footwear brands Gola, Lotus and Frank Wright
49 Sterling InsuranceInsurance underwriter Southwest London 2004 74.25% 8,507 150,963 308 Tripling customers paying by direct debit in three years has boosted profits
50 Spearhead InternationalIntegrated food and agricultural business Cambridgeshire 2004 74.19% 5,248 52,527 949 More than 50% of milk and produce comes from its east European farms
51 Watkin Jones GroupProperty developer Gwynedd 2004 73.80% 5,770 62,448 237 Redirection of business halved sales to £60m but doubled profits
52 The Stationery OfficePublisher Norwich 2004 73.45% 9,537 79,700 639 Publishes 15,000 titles for government annually, including Highway Code
53 Hallco 1812Steel stockholder Cheshire 2005 72.39% 8,914 95,752 289 Supplies 230,000 tonnes of steel a year to customers including JCB
54= McCann HomesHousebuilder Milton Keynes 2004 72.19% 5,870 35,493 80 Secured a government EcoHomes rating for its social housing
54= The C. Brown Steel GroupSteel processor Dudley 2005 72.19% 5,365 38,002 187 Midlands steel processor now run by founder’s son and three grandsons
56 DCT Civil EngineeringCivil engineering contractor Greater Manchester 2004 71.13% 3,205 27,293 124 Won a £30m sewerage contract last year with Severn Trent Water
57 Control RisksRisk management consultancy Central London 2005 70.49% 14,718 110,520 480 Government contracts in Iraq account for 30% of £110m sales
58 PaymentshieldInsurance underwriter Merseyside 2005 68.04% 11,525 63,360 202 Founders exited in 2004 in an MBI backed by Bank of Scotland
59 Yuill GroupHousebuilder Hartlepool 2005 66.66% 14,521 58,484 220 Bought in February for a reported £60m by the Irish builder Taggart
60 BodenClothing retailer Northwest London 2004 66.41% 11,690 85,975 441 One year after American launch, exports account for 15% of sales
61 Simons GroupBuilding contractor Lincoln 2005 65.99% 4,839 205,526 768 Leading a £175m retail development of Wakefield city centre
62 WSHCatering & restaurant business Reading 2004 65.59% 4,081 81,494 2,876 Manages restaurants and staff canteens for Daily Mail, Cisco and Nokia
63 British SeafoodSeafood wholesaler Central London 2004 64.35% 11,551 108,206 87 Operates seafood processing units in the Far East and eastern Europe
64 NSDSteel stockholder Scunthorpe 2004 62.75% 6,271 49,490 105 Management team bought company out of steel firm Samac in 1993
65 StructadeneProperty investor Central London 2004 62.70% 26,748 35,211 63 Bought 22 buildings from the BBC last year for £42m
66 York MailingCommercial printer York 2005 62.26% 3,377 26,011 224 Prints 200 tonnes of flyers and newspaper inserts every day
67 SymphonyFurniture supplier Barnsley 2004 61.71% 9,612 113,652 1,240 Sells through 1,100 retail outlets worldwide from Reykjavik to Hong Kong
68 NG BaileyMechanical, electrical contractor West Yorkshire 2005 60.29% 13,571 406,615 3,990 Refitted Safeway stores to Morrisons’ format across Britain
69 C G Fry & SonHousebuilder Dorchester 2004 60.19% 11,535 39,409 88 Helped build the Prince of Wales’s model town at Poundbury
70 Barchester HealthcareCare home operator Southwest London 2004 59.84% 18,275 130,429 6,850 Founder started company after failing to find home for elderly aunt
71 Central TrustLoan broker Norwich 2004 59.52% 27,170 67,261 413 Brokered 50,000 new mortgages and other loans last year
72 Tingdene HomesModular builder Northamptonshire 2005 58.81% 5,811 32,351 382 Launched home called Fast Track 20 as it takes 20 days to construct
73 Hobbycraft GroupCraft goods retailer Dorset 2005 57.67% 4,135 44,046 883 Founder launched first shop in family’s garden centre, now runs 25 stores
74 McDermott DevelopmentsHousebuilder Lancashire 2004 57.51% 7,037 18,282 39 Company started from founder’s bedroom, now builds 200 houses a year
75 Hanbury HoldingsHaulier Suffolk 2005 57.45% 3,698 44,208 437 520 vehicles distribute goods for customers including food group Mueller
76 South Lakeland CaravansCaravan park operator Lancashire 2005 57.24% 11,497 30,896 217 Acquired the Royal Westmoreland resort in Barbados for £53m
77 Allam MarineGenerator/football club Hull 2004 56.92% 3,460 41,822 26 Sells 8,000 generators a year to customers such as the UN and Siemens
78 CBC GroupConstruction contractor Glasgow 2004 56.70% 3,175 33,926 188 Founder started out with a decorating business in the 1950s
79 StemcorSteel trader Central London 2004 56.25% 58,191 2,777,774 383 Second-generation firm last year sold 8m tonnes of steel on six continents
80 DCKJewellery retailer Essex 2005 55.90% 7,855 78,769 1,365 Runs 3,400 jewellery concessions in stores including Top Shop and Wallis
81 IngeniousInvestor and adviser Central London 2005 55.81% 35,693 54,895 64 Helped production company behind Footballers’ Wives to float last year
82 INEOSChemicals manufacturer UK/Switzerland 2004 55.58% 191,184 2,409,197 2,439 Bought BP’s Innovene chemicals business for £5bn last year
83 Nicholl Food PackagingFoil container maker Staffordshire 2005 55.48% 5,457 55,249 302 Makes 2bn aluminium foil containers annually for clients including Tesco
84 GraffJeweller Central London 2004 55.37% 29,104 124,465 80 Cuts and polishes diamonds worn by celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey
85 Esh GroupConstruction contractor Durham 2004 55.05% 13,348 86,215 679 Offers work experience to 120 pupils a year, taking on 20 as apprentices
86 European Metal RecyclingMetal recycler Warrington 2004 54.47% 104,042 1,146,245 1,416 Claims to recycle half of the 2m cars scrapped in Britain each year
87 PindarPrinter Scarborough 2004 54.36% 7,831 103,931 1,295 Printed Harley Davidson’s 100th-anniversary parts catalogue
88 James Jones & SonsTimber processor Stirling 2004 52.52% 5,219 61,468 481 Processed 700,000 tonnes of logs at six sawmills last year
89 Scaid InvestmentsMobile home maker Hull 2004 52.43% 23,730 180,276 1,506 Taken private in 2004 in a £102m buyout backed by Bank of Scotland
90 Ogilvie GroupVehicle lessor Stirling 2005 52.28% 4,711 147,417 443 Tendering as part of a consortium for £100m contract from Stirling Council
91 Bennett HomesHousebuilder Suffolk 2004 51.83% 5,480 16,823 67 Builds on problem plots bought at big discounts
92 ABS Industrial ResourcesMetal processor and supplier South Yorkshire 2004 51.62% 5,298 57,728 119 With offices in Germany and South Africa, it generates 70% of sales overseas
93 ReissBranded fashion retailer Central London 2005 51.58% 5,711 34,606 456 Started overseas expansion by opening flagship store in New York last year
94 Phase EightFashion retailer West London 2005 51.12% 4,028 30,126 574 Completed £28m buyout last year backed by Barclays Private Equity
95 Fat FaceClothing retailer Hampshire 2005 50.99% 8,881 60,707 1,081 Private-equity firm Advent backed MBO last year for a reported £100m
96 MasstockAgricultural products supplier Cheltenham 2004 50.26% 6,013 143,263 406 Bought part of Dalgety, once UK’s largest agri products supplier, for £16m
97 Industrial Metal ServicesSteel stockholder Essex 2004 49.76% 4,654 42,042 223 A near doubling of worldwide steel prices has driven up profits
98 McArthur GroupIndustrial products supplier Bristol 2004 49.51% 3,339 92,231 496 Started in the 1830s by making shovels for Cornish miners
99 American GolfGolf equipment retailer Warrington 2005 48.92% 7,979 66,812 447 Says its 73 shops are staffed by golfers with an average handicap of seven
100 Bennetts RetailElectrical goods retailer Norwich 2005 48.76% 3,043 53,491 389 Underwent a £4.5m secondary management buyout in 2001