Britain’s private mid-market growth companies are demonstrating resilience and adaptability, investing in technology and revising business models as they plan for the new decade. Companies on our 15th annual Sunday Times Grant Thornton Top Track 250 league table achieved combined sales of £63.3bn in their latest financial year, a 16% year-on-year increase; and profits of £5.9bn, up 21% — see below for an overview.
For detailed findings, download our research report, or click the image below for the full supplement.
Strong performances have been recorded across a wide range of sectors on this year’s Sunday Times Grant Thornton Top Track 250 – our definitive ranking of Britain’s private mid-market growth firms, now in its 15th year.
Established brands in this year’s league table include Dr Martens, Travelodge and Princess Yachts, alongside fast-growing brands such as Gymshark, Five Guys and TransferWise.
The 250 companies generated combined sales of £66.3bn, up 16% from £54.8bn in their prior year. They achieved profits of £5.9bn, up 21%, with nearly two thirds (152) increasing their profit margin.
Services (99) and retail (42) are the two largest sectors represented. Examples include BGL Group (No 4), the company behind the comparethemarket.com price comparison site; and high street stalwart Timpson (No 76), which grew profits by 11% to £14.3m in 2018, on sales of £277.6m.
Collectively the 250 companies added 37,000 jobs in their latest year, and now employ 373,000 staff.
Top of the league
The number one company is Holland & Barrett, the health foods and supplements retailer. Founded in 1870 as a single grocery store in Bishop’s Stortford, it now stocks 9,000 products, from Valerian root to vegan protein shakes, at 1,300 stores from Sweden to Hong Kong.
A surge in demand for wellness products boosted sales 6% to £697.3m in 2018, with profits of £110.7m. Its owner – the investment fund L1 Retail – has outlined a 10-year strategy to make the company bigger outside the UK than within the country, and triple sales to £2bn.
Focus: Expansion overseas
This year’s Top Track 250 companies have looked beyond the UK for growth, including opening stores, franchising their brand and acquiring local companies and expertise. More than half the companies (130) have international operations and they grew overseas sales by an average of 19% in their latest year.
Examples include Busy Bees (No 28), the nurseries operator, which cares for more than 50,000 children from Canada to China; and health club operator David Lloyd Leisure (No 24), which has acquired clubs in France and Germany to grow overseas sales to £49.8m last year.
Top Track 250 alumni
Previous success stories include Dyson, which first featured with sales of £277m and are now £44bn; Ocado which floated in 2010 valued at £940m and is now valued at £9bn; and Trainline which featured on last year’s league table before floating and is now valued at £2bn.
Detailed research findings
Detailed research findings are covered in our 38-page research report — please click to download.
National awards dinner
We look forward to welcoming the founders and directors of the Top Track 250 companies to this year’s invitation-only networking awards dinner in November, with guest speakers from Britain’s leading mid-market growth firms:
- Chrissie Rucker OBE, founder of The White Company, which sells its white bed linen, fashion and home accessories online and through 60 stores in Britain, Ireland and the US; and has featured four times on Top Track 250.
- Steve Hewitt, chief executive of Gymshark, the fitness clothing brand founded in 2012, which sells directly to 178 countries via its 13 multi-lingual websites; and makes its Top Track 250 debut this year with 2019 sales of £179.6m.
See last year’s event video.
Recognising the achievements of all these companies is made possible by our sponsors: Grant Thornton, our title sponsor, Lloyds Banking Group, our main sponsor, and Trowers & Hamlins, an awards dinner sponsor.
To meet and build relationships with the founders and directors of the UK’s most successful private companies, from the fastest-growing to the biggest, see available sponsorship opportunities.