Profit Track – Covid-19 Edition

24th April 2020

Our 21st annual Sunday Times Profit Track league table, published today and here on our website, identifies the UK’s private businesses with the fastest-growing profits over their last three years, and before the coronavirus struck. It also highlights their contribution to the economy at this difficult time and gives examples of how private companies are stepping up to support the NHS and their communities.

Click image to view full supplement

Due to the impact of Covid-19, our usual ranking of 100 is reduced to 70 companies which explicitly still wanted to be featured, with 30 qualifying firms choosing to withdraw because of the pandemic. Their profits have increased by between 45% and 156% pa over three years, to a combined total of £769m, and their staff increased by 10,700 to 31,100.

In addition to paying taxes that help fund vital services such as the NHS, many of this year’s companies have stepped up to the challenges created by the coronavirus crisis. For instance NG Bailey (No 59) helped turn a convention centre in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, into an NHS hospital in just three weeks, while Tropic Skincare (No 40) is developing hand sanitisers for NHS staff.

Top of the league

The number one company, Solihull-based fitness clothing retailer Gymshark (above), is supporting the Birmingham Women’s and Children’s hospital, donating £5 for every #NHSsweatyselfie photo taken by its fans and will raise £175,000 for the NHS by the end of April. It has no plans to furlough employees, and any who cannot work from home are paid their salaries in full while being encouraged to volunteer for the NHS.

The company was founded in 2012 by Ben Francis, now 27, in his parents garage. It has since gone global under chief executive Steve Hewitt, 46, and has 120 million fans that watch its sponsored YouTube and Instagram stars showcase its clothing. Profits grew an average of 156% over three years to £18.6m July 2019, on sales of £176.2m.

Focus: Helping the NHS and adjusting to the coronavirus

Many league table companies have acted to help the NHS and communities, while having to adjust to the realities of operating in a pandemic. Bike-maker Brompton (No 70 – above), is lending hundreds of bikes to NHS workers, having crowdfunded £300,000 to build a further 1,000 bikes and committed £100,000 of its own resources. Riverford (No 60), which delivers organic food boxes, has asked new customers to join a waiting list, while car parts distributor Motor Parts Direct (No 57), is still sending stock to independent garages to keep key workers’ vehicles on the road.

Alumni companies

In the 21 years since its inception, Profit Track has featured many of Britain’s most successful companies, some of which are household names – including INEOS, Bet365, and Some of our largest alumni have mobilised to help the NHS and communities during the pandemic, with former No 1 company The Hut Group, the Manchester-based e-commerce retailer, creating a £10m aid package, which includes making its two luxury hotels in the city available to NHS workers.

National directors’ dinner

Our Profit Track directors’ dinner will be held on Thursday 15 October at The Savoy in London, if social distancing restrictions allow. Our keynote speakers are Carol Kane, co-founder of, the online fashion retailer, and Kenny Wilson, CEO of Dr Martens, the iconic shoe manufacturer and retailer.

See last year’s event video

Our sponsors

Recognising the achievements of all these companies is made possible by our sponsors: UBS Wealth Management, a sponsor for 18 years, and Santander Corporate and Commercial, in its second year of sponsorship.

For opportunities to connect with and build relationships with the founders and directors of Britain’s private companies, please visit our sponsorship page:

Return to all articles