Top Track 250: Covid-19 edition

26th September 2020

Our 16th annual Sunday Times PwC Top Track 250 league table, published today and here on our website, ranks the UK’s leading mid-market private companies with the biggest sales – before Covid-19 struck. It also highlights their response to the pandemic, giving examples of how they have supported their communities and the NHS. For detailed findings, download our research report

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The Top Track 250 companies grew their combined sales by 17% to £59.6bn, and operating profits by 25% to £5.1bn in their last financial year.

They represent a vital cross-section of the economy. Construction is the dominant industry on this year’s league table, with 52 companies, followed by consumer goods (33) and food and drink (30). Entrepreneurs and/or founders own majority-stakes in 85 companies, while 70 are family-owned and 63 are majority-owned by private equity.

They employed more than 400,000 people prior to the pandemic, and though many have been hit hard, furloughing staff and making some redundancies, others are continuing to grow strongly.

Our survey, conducted before the latest government restrictions were announced, found that 77% remain “highly optimistic” about their post-pandemic prospects, and 92% said they are “very confident” that their teams possess the skills to help them prosper.

Top of the league

Pictured: Vincent Clancy, chairman and CEO of No 1 company Turner & Townsend

Construction consultancy Turner & Townsend tops the league table, with sales up 16% to £744.3m and operating profits up 29% to £87.1m in the year to April. Led by chairman and chief executive Vincent Clancy, it is owned by its 93 partners and headquartered in Leeds.

The majority of sales are generated overseas from clients such as Microsoft, Nissan and Shell. It is supplying its expertise on Virgin Hyperloop One in India, set to be the world’s first magnetically propelled train, and helping the UK’s environmental research station in Antarctica reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.

Tackling Covid-19

Challenging trading conditions have not precluded Top Track 250 companies from helping to tackle the pandemic’s impact, deploying their expertise and resources to support the NHS, and also making significant donations to local communities.

Others have specifically deployed their medical resources and expertise.

Pictured: LGC has developed machines that can process 150,000 Covid tests a day

Examples include:

  • InHealth (No 127) partnered with the NHS, supplying CT scanners to diagnose Covid-19 patients, and redeployed staff into Nightingale hospitals
  • LGC (No 25) is supplying testing technology to the Milton Keynes Lighthouse Lab, with each of its machines able to process up to 150,000 tests per day
  • Randox Laboratories (No 215) developed a range of Covid-19 testing kits and was hired by the government to help it process tests

Alumni success stories

Top Track 250 alumni success stories include Ocado, which first featured with sales of £143m in 2006, listed in 2010 and has since seen its value increase more than 20 times to £21bn; B&M Retail, which first featured in 2009 with sales of £256m, floated in 2014 and is now worth £4.6bn; and THG, which debuted with sales of just £157m in 2013, and floated on the London Stock Exchange this month valued at £5.4bn.

Detailed research findings 

Detailed research findings are covered in our 37-page report — click to download.

National virtual awards event

We look forward to welcoming the founders and directors of the Top Track 250 companies to this year’s invitation-only interactive virtual awards event on 3rd November, with keynotes from high-profile entrepreneurs and Top Track 250 alumni:

  • Lord Karan Bilimoria is founder & chairman of Cobra Beer, and this year became the first BAME president of the Confederation of British Industry
  • Jo Malone, founder and chief executive of VetPartners, which was acquired by BC Partners for £720m in 2018, operates 140 vet practices across the UK and Europe, and is forecasting 43% sales growth to £500m in 2021
  • Humphrey Cobbold, chief executive of PureGym, which has featured on the league table for the last five consecutive years. It is the UK’s largest gym chain, with 260 sites generating profits of £69m on sales of £255m in 2019, and is finding ways to keep operating during the pandemic.

Our sponsors

Recognising the achievements of all these companies is made possible by support from our sponsors: PwC, our title sponsor for a third year, Lloyds Bank, our main sponsor for five years, and Trowers & Hamlins, which is an award sponsor for a fourth year.

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

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