Britain’s biggest private companies recognised

30th October 2019

Thirty-one directors from private companies with combined sales of over £50bn, profits of £3.5bn, and employing more than 215,000 people gathered in London yesterday for the third in our series of four Sunday Times HSBC Top Track 100 directors’ networking events, co-hosted by senior representatives from our sponsors, HSBC, PwC and Linklaters.

Guests from companies including JCB, OVO Energy, Bestway Group, and Laing O’Rourke discussed subjects ranging from sustainability, corporate purpose, and apprenticeships, to Brexit, the possible outcomes of a December election, and the rise of China. There was a mood of optimism in the room, and hope that political uncertainty would soon pass.

All the companies were congratulated for their success in achieving a place on the 2019 league table. Andy Rubin, director at Pentland Group – which first appeared on the Top Track 100 league table in 2002 – was presented with his company’s award certificate by Fast Track’s founder, Hamish Stevenson, who co-hosted the dinner.



Guest Insights

Three guests spoke to our camera about new initiatives at their businesses, social purpose, and prospects for growth.

Lisa Thomas, chief brand officer of Virgin – the international investment group behind brands such as Virgin Galactic and Virgin Radio – discussed the upcoming launch of Scarlet Lady, the new cruise ship being built for Virgin Voyages.



Phillip Ullman, chief energiser at Cordant Group, the manpower services provider, talked about the company’s transformation into the UK’s largest social enterprise, with the purpose of improving society.



Alex Tatham, managing director UK & Ireland of technology distributor Westcoast, reflected on how the digital transformation of business is driving its growth, and the strong prospect of post-Brexit UK becoming “Silicon Island”.



A word from our sponsors

The lunch was co-hosted by senior representatives from our Top Track 100 title sponsor HSBC and main sponsors PwC and Linklaters, as well as Oliver Shah, the business editor of The Sunday Times, our media partner.


Jonathan Graham HSBC


Jonathan Graham from HSBC UK welcomed guests and recognised their achievements, saying: “it’s really great that we can get so many of our best private companies under one roof,” and adding that despite three years of Brexit-related political uncertainty, “fundamentally, your businesses are still thriving.”


Oliver Shah


“I’m told incumbent parties hate December elections, because the flu rates and NHS headlines start spiking,” said Oliver Shah, business editor of The Sunday Times, as news filtered through of a December election. He said the Sunday Times is “very proud” to work with Fast Track, and added: “we think that private companies are very important, the growth engine and lifeblood of the economy.”


Suzi Woolfson PwC


Suzi Woolfson, UK Private Business Leader at PwC, congratulated companies on their achievements and highlighted the positive impact private firms have on society and encouraging them to tell these stories. “You create a culture in your organisation, you care about your stakeholders,” she said, “you make a huge difference, and with the right culture, purpose and vision, you create trust in society.”


John Lane Linklaters


John Lane of Linklaters thanked guests for attending and said how much his team enjoyed meeting senior directors from Britain’s biggest private companies. “We love these events – it’s a great opportunity for us to get to know and exchange views with people who are really in the thick of business in the UK,” he said.


More information on the league table and directors’ dinners

This lunch was the third in a series of four networking events to be attended by senior directors from the 2019 Sunday Times HSBC Top Track 100.

For more information about the league table and events programme, see:

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