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The audacious acquisitions that

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   TOP
   TRACK
   June 28, 2009



This year’s league
table of top
private companies
reflects the new
austerity sweeping
corporate Britain,
writes Catherine
Wheatley
                                                               Britain’s biggest
            he audacious acquisitions that
                                                               private companies
T           created some of Britain’s biggest
            private companies, and took oth-
            ers off the stock market, have
            become a distant memory since
the credit crisis took hold. Now, instead of
eyeing takeover targets, large companies
are cutting costs, preserving cash and look-
ing for new customers.
   This year’s Top Track 100, which ranks
Britain’s biggest private companies by
their latest available sales, reflects a new
mood of moderation across corporate Brit-
ain. The eighth annual league table, com-
piled by the Oxford research and events
company Fast Track, reveals a collection of
familiar names that are now going for
organic growth and greater efficiency rath-
er than acquisitions.
   Despite the economic turmoil, 77 compa-
nies in the Top Track 100 improved their
turnover — total sales reached £160 billion,
up 8% on last year. As the table below
shows, the online bookmaker Bet365 (No 7)
recorded the biggest sales growth, as the
value of bets placed almost doubled to
£3.5 billion.
   Few of the companies on the list have
published accounts that reflect the true
impact of the credit crunch and recession.
But the December 2008 results for house-
builder Miller Group (No 33) might hint



   FAST TRACK
  TOP TRACK 100 is compiled by
  Fast Track, the Oxford-based
  company that researches Britain’s
  top private companies and organises
  invitation-only events for owners
  and directors to network and meet its
  sponsors.


that bad news lies ahead for some compa-
nies. The Scottish business had the list’s
largest fall in sales, down 20% to £1 billion.
   The Top Track 100 firms are ranked by
their sales, so the table is dominated by
volume businesses. This year there are 30
retailers and consumer industry compa-
nies and 26 travel and leisure firms. There
are also 14 property and construction busi-
nesses and 15 energy, infrastructure and
utility providers.
   Many of Britain’s biggest private comp-
anies are established household names.
John Lewis Partnership (No 4) will open its
28th department store in Cardiff later this
year. Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic
airline (No 9) celebrated its 25th annivers-
ary last week.
   Private-equity houses, which have
attracted the public’s attention in recent
years by snapping up British institutions
from Aston Martin to Weetabix, still exert                      In association with
a powerful influence on the Top Track 100.
This year 41 companies are majority-
owned by private equity, down from 47 last
time. They include United Biscuits (No 32)
and the music giant EMI (No 24), which
has seen a 19% drop in sales.
   Predictably, the private-equity industry
has been behind the biggest movements in
the league table. Last year’s No 2 company,
Alliance Boots, is one of 12 companies that
have left the list after its owner KKR reloc-
ated it to Switzerland. Other high-profile
departures include Somerfield, sold by its       est, tax and depreciation (ebitda) at             abide by its banking covenants as demand                                                                                                                als including Sir Philip Green, whose fami-
private-equity owners to the Co-op, and          £1.02 billion, followed by Anglian Water          started to collapse and the value of Ineos’s                                                                                                            ly owns Arcadia (No 18) and BHS (No 56),
private-equity backed MFI, which went            (No 19) at £644m. Southern Water (No 85)          oil stocks plummeted.                           BIGGEST CHANGES IN SALES OVER ONE YEAR                                                                  Bernie Ecclestone, who still owns a share
into administration at the end of last year.     achieved the highest profit margin at 69%.           Other league table companies are mak-                                                                                                                of the parent company of Formula One
   Acromas (No 23), is the product of the           The sharp downturn in mergers and              ing redundancies, cutting costs and pre-                                                Activity                           Year end Sales,£m   Change   Administration (No 98), and Sir Richard
£6.2 billion merger of two businesses            acquisitions since the credit crisis tight-       serving cash, as Deloitte’s Stuart Counsell                                                                                                             Branson, who has majority stakes in Virgin
owned by private equity. Saga, the over-         ened its grip is reflected in this year’s rank-   explores on page 3. For example, construc-     Greatest rises                                                                                           Atlantic and Virgin Trains (No 62).
fifties travel and insurance group, was          ings. Only one company, Expro (No 89), has        tion-equipment maker JCB (No 16) has cut        7      Bet365                           Online bookmaker                     Mar 09   *3,454    +90%       A further 20 companies, such as the con-
merged with the AA motoring organisa-            joined the Top Track 100 after being taken        jobs, slowed production and run down           42      Bibby Line Group                 Conglomerate                         Dec 08    1,034    +67%    glomerate Swire (No 8) are owned by family
tion in 2007 by owners Charterhouse, CVC         private, compared with 10 last time.              inventories as demand for its yellow dig-      55      Aurora Fashions                  Fashion retailer                     Jan 08      870    +49%    dynasties. Ten are majority-owned by
and Permira.                                        Ineos Group, Britain’s biggest private         gers has slowed. Other firms are using tech-    3      Stemcor                          Steel trader                         Dec 08    6,289    +48%    employees or management, including the
   Also on the list is one newly-formed com-     company for the third consecutive year            nology to boost efficiency, says Microsoft’s                                                                                                            retailer John Lewis and the engineering
pany, Aurora Fashions (No 55), born out of       with sales of £23.1 billion, is one of several    Simon Negus on page 6.                         25      Viridian                         Electricity utility                  Mar 08    1,450    +42%    consultancy Arup (No 68).
the collapsed Icelandic retail conglomerate      companies discovering that aggressive                Several companies, including Ineos and                                                                                                                  Over the past 12 months, the Top Track
Mosaic Fashions. The firm’s management           acquisitions now carry a hefty price. In just     Gala Coral, are in talks with their lenders    Greatest declines                                                                                        100 have had to deal with a dramatic
snapped up Mosaic’s four main chains —           over a decade, founder Jim Ratcliffe has          about restructuring debt. On page 4, Steve     38      Miller Group                     Housebuilder                         Dec 08   *1,047    -20%    change in trading conditions. Strong, agile
Karen Millen, Oasis, Coast and Warehouse         snapped up more than a dozen oil and              Winningham of Lloyds TSB Corporate                                                                                                                      companies with cash reserves are taking
— last March. Aurora’s ranking is based on       chemicals subsidiaries using high-yield           Markets looks at how banks are helping         24      EMI                              Music publisher                      Mar 08   *1,458    -19%    advantage of the upheaval to find new mar-
sales figures for Mosaic.                        bonds and bank debt. His audacious £5.1 bil-      clients through tough times.                   73      First Quench                     Off-licence operator                 Jun 08    †686     -11%    kets. But for those geared up to grow by
   Utility companies owned by private-           lion purchase of BP’s Innovene in 2005               Although private equity looms large in      28      TI Automotive                    Car parts maker                      Dec 07    1,395    -11%    acquisition, the future appears very tough.
equity and infrastructure funds continue         transformed Ineos into the world’s third-         the league table, Jim Ratcliffe is one of 29   95      Welcome Break                    Motorway services                    Jan 08    †583      -8%    Next year, when more accounts cover the
to perform well, thanks, perhaps, to signifi-    largest petrochemicals player.                    entrepreneurs who still own a majority                                                                                                                  depths of the recession at the end of 2008
cant price rises. Thames Water (No 22)              The business has reduced its debts since       stake in their companies. He is joined by a    Profit is taken as ebitda   * draft, pro forma, or not yet filed   † annualised                          and start of 2009, the league table may well
reported the highest earnings before inter-      then, but last year it found it harder to         number of rich and high-profile individu-                                                                                                               look very different.
    2            TOP TRACK 100


British private companies
with the biggest sales
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   1   1      Ineos Group                    Chemical manufacturer                   Hampshire                    Dec 08                *23,148             *501           18,853            14,971         Jim Ratcliffe (75%), management and staff (25%)                                       3
   2 26       Gala Coral                     Betting and gaming operator             Nottingham                   Sep 08                *15,032              362          *13,134            19,956         Candover (27%), Cinven (27%), Permira (27%), management (19%)                         3
   3   4      Stemcor                        Steel trader                            Central London               Dec 08                   6,289             105            4,254             1,364         Ralph Oppenheimer and family (71%), management and staff (29%)                        3
   4   3      John Lewis Partnership         Food and general retailer               Central London               Jan 09                †*6,149            †*516            6,052            68,700         Employees (100%)                                                                      3
   5   6      Palmer and Harvey              Wholesale distributor                   East Sussex                  Apr 08                 *4,026              *48            3,983             3,518         Management and employees (75%), former employees (25%)                                3
   6   7      Laing O’Rourke                 Construction contractor                 Dartford                     Mar 08                   3,603             140            3,037            30,847         Ray O’Rourke, Hugh O’Rourke and Bernard Dempsey via Suffolk Partners Corp             3
   7 16       Bet365                         Online bookmaker                        Stoke-on-Trent               Mar 09                 *3,455              *75           †1,815               900         Coates family (93%), William Roseff (7%)                                              3
   8   8      Swire                          Conglomerate                            Central London               Dec 08                 *3,244               n.a           2,512           125,000         Swire family (66%), others (34%)                                                      3
   9 10       Virgin Atlantic                Airline and tour operator               Crawley                      Feb 09                   2,579              85            2,380             9,876         Virgin Group (51%), Singapore Airlines (49%)                                          3
  10 20       Greenergy International        Fuel supplier                           Central London               Mar 09                 *2,363              *27            1,725                80         Andrew Owens and Alex Lewis (33%), Caradog (24%), Tesco (21%), Barclays (15%)         3
  11 22       European Metal Recycling       Metal recycler                          Warrington                   Dec 07                   2,243             171            1,691             2,365         Sheppard family (98%)                                                                 3
  12 11       Arnold Clark Automobiles       Car dealer                              Glasgow                      Dec 08                 *2,210             *155            2,084             8,421         Sir Arnold Clark (40%), Clark family and trusts (60%)                                 3
  13 14       Iceland                        Frozen food retailer                    Flintshire                   Mar 09                   2,081             163            1,789            19,406         Baugur, Landsbanki, Glitnir, management                                               3
  14 23       Brakes Group                   Food distributor                        Kent                         Dec 08                   2,048             140            1,811             9,037         Bain Capital (80%), management (20%)                                                  3
  15 12       SCH Group                      IT infrastructure integrator            Birmingham                   Mar 08                   2,041              24            2,042             5,533         Sir Peter Rigby and family (100%)                                                     3
  16   9      JCB                            Construction equipment maker            Staffordshire                Dec 08                 *2,010               n.a           2,133                n.a        Bamford family (100%)                                                                 4
  17 17       Bestway Group                  Cash and carry operator                 West London                  Jun 08                 *1,895              *92           *1,811             5,118         Sir Anwar Pervez and family (66%), management (34%)                                   4
  18 13       Arcadia                        Fashion retailer                        Central London               Aug 08                   1,847             325            1,859            31,211         Lady Cristina Green and family, Lloyds Banking Group                                  4
  19 45       Anglian Water Group            Water services provider                 Cambridgeshire               Mar 08                   1,811             644            1,735            10,847         CPPIB (32.3%), CFSGAM (32.3%), IFM (19.3%), 3i Group (16.1%)                          4
  20 19       Shop Direct Group              Internet and catalogue retailer         Liverpool                    Apr 08                 †1,762              †54            1,815            17,810         Sir David Barclay and Sir Frederick Barclay (100%)                                    4
  21 15       Sir Robert McAlpine            Construction contractor                 Hemel Hempstead              Oct 08                   1,697              68            1,817             2,937         McAlpine family (100%)                                                                4
  22 24       Thames Water                   Water services provider                 Reading                      Mar 09                 *1,577           *1,021            1,598             5,141         Consortium led by Macquarie European Infrastructure Funds                             4
  23 70       Acromas                        Consumer services provider              Folkestone                   Jan 08                 *1,545             *479           *1,483            11,699         Charterhouse, CVC, Permira, management and staff                                      4
  24 21       EMI                            Music publisher and producer            Central London               Mar 08                 *1,458             *164            1,808             4,536         Terra Firma, management                                                               4
  25 39       Viridian                       Electricity utility                     Belfast                      Mar 08                   1,450             205            1,022             1,587         Arcapita Bank (100%)                                                                  4
  26 28       MRH (GB)                       Fuel retailer and distributor           Epping                       Sep 08                 *1,432              *34           *1,255               351         Management (62%), Barclays Private Equity (38%)                                       4
  27 30       SSP                            Travel foodservice provider             Weybridge                    Sep 08                   1,426             133            1,236            29,804         EQT and co-investors (88%), management (12%)                                          4
  28 25       TI Automotive                  Car parts maker                         Oxford                       Dec 07                   1,395             127            1,566            17,950         Oaktree Capital Management, Duquesne Capital Management, JP Morgan                    4
  29 29       Wilkinson                      Value retailer                          Nottinghamshire              Feb 08                   1,364              88           †1,223            25,424         Wilkinson family (100%)                                                               4
  30 32       New Look                       Fashion retailer                        Weymouth                     Mar 09                 *1,325             *218           †1,147            20,316         Permira (28%), Apax (28%), Tom Singh (23%), management (16%), Quillian (3%)           4
  31 40       Specsavers                     Optical and hearing aid retailer        Guernsey                     Feb 09                 *1,181               n.a          *1,020            26,000         Perkins family                                                                        4
  32 33       United Biscuits                Branded snack manufacturer              West London                  Dec 08                †*1,179            †*193           †1,100             8,500         PAI Partners (45%), Blackstone (45%), management (10%)                                4
  33 35       C&J Clark                      Shoe retailer and wholesaler            Somerset                     Jan 09                   1,122             122           †1,033            13,425         Clark family (81%), employees and institutions (19%)                                  4
  34 43       Betfred                        Bookmaker                               Warrington                   Mar 08                   1,116              26             †949             2,301         Fred and Peter Done and family (100%)                                                 4
  35 31       Linpac                         Packaging maker                         Birmingham                   Dec 07                   1,101             106            1,151             9,172         Montagu Private Equity (46%), other shareholders (54%)                                4
  36 46       Findus Group                   Food producer                           Grimsby                      Sep 08                 *1,091             *117              894             6,569         Lion Capital, management                                                              4
  37 61       Enterprise                     Maintenance services provider           Lancashire                   Dec 08                 *1,090              *82             *847                n.a        3i (57%), Equiom Trust Company (23%), management and staff (20%)                      4
  38 27       Miller Group                   Housebuilder, property developer        Edinburgh                    Dec 08                 *1,047            *-116            1,309             1,929         Miller family, Lloyds Banking Group, employees                                        5
  39 38       BMI                            Airline operator                        Derby                        Dec 08                 *1,046               n.a           1,023                n.a        Sir Michael Bishop (50%), Lufthansa (30%), SAS (20%)                                  5
  40 42       Pentland Group                 Brand manager and retailer              Central London               Dec 08                 *1,044              *90              973            11,552         Stephen Rubin and family (100%)                                                       5
  41 36       Matalan                        Value retailer                          Lancashire                   Mar 09                 *1,036             *145            1,020            15,421         John Hargreaves and family (54%), Abacus Trust (22%), Maxine Adams (8%)               5
  42 34       Unipart Group                  Logistics operator                      Oxford                       Dec 08                 *1,034               *8            1,067             8,102         Management and staff (52%), 3i, Electra, Standard Life (33%), UGC Pension (15%)       5
  43 85       Bibby Line Group               Conglomerate                            Liverpool                    Dec 08                   1,034              67              619             4,911         Michael Bibby and family (88%), management and others (12%)                           5
  44 41       Vita Group                     Foam and plastics maker                 Central London               Dec 08                 *1,027              *53             *985             5,310         TPG Capital, other investors                                                          5
  45 44       Wates                          Construction contractor                 Surrey                       Dec 08                   1,009              38              949             2,323         Wates family (100%)                                                                   5
  46          AMC Group                      Metal trader                            Central London               Dec 08                     977              54              850             1,465         V Sher (26%), G Robbins (11%), G Rowan (11%), others (52%)                            5
  47 49       Iglo Birds Eye                 Frozen food producer                    West London                  Dec 08                    *970            *161             *869             2,306         Permira, management                                                                   5
  48 50       Kwik-Fit                       Car repair centre operator              Edinburgh                    Dec 08                     942              97              858            10,296         PAI Partners, management                                                              5
  49 52       Baxi Group                     Heating systems manufacturer            Derby                        Dec 08                    *939            *108              847             4,348         BC Partners (81%), Electra Private Equity (11%), management (8%)                      5
  50 62       Mott MacDonald                 Management & engineering consultancy    Croydon                      Dec 08                    *913             *51              748            12,664         Trust (50%), employees (50%)                                                          5
  51 47       Kelda Group                    Water utility                           Bradford                     Mar 08                     896             522              932             3,363         Consortium comprising Citigroup, GIC and Infracapital                                 5
  52 55       River Island                   Fashion retailer                        West London                  Dec 07                     888             194              813            14,796         Bernard Lewis OBE and family (100%)                                                   5
  53 54       Bowmer & Kirkland              Construction contractor                 Derbyshire                   Aug 08                    *885             *38              819             1,793         Kirkland family and family trusts (100%)                                              5
  54 60       Abbot Group                    Drilling contractor                     Aberdeen                     Dec 08                    *877            *158              774             7,350         First Reserve (59%), Pamplona Capital (18%), management (2%), others (21%)            5
  55          Aurora Fashions                Fashion retailer                        London                       Jan 08                     870              70              586            14,761         Kaupthing, management                                                                 5
  56 48       BHS                            Department store operator               Central London               Mar 08                     860              62              873            14,937         Lady Cristina Green and family (95%), West Coast Capital (5%)                         5
  57 71       Caparo Group                   Metal engineer                          Central London               Dec 08                    *856             *37              686             8,352         Lord Paul and family (100%)                                                           5
  58 69       Doncasters                     Engineering components maker            Staffordshire                Dec 08                     854             148              691             6,344         Dubai International Capital (78%), Eric Lewis (6.5%), other management (15.5%)        5
  59          20:20 Mobile Group             Mobile phone distributor                Crewe                        Dec 08                     850              28              719             1,447         Doughty Hanson, RBS, Mizuho, management                                               5
  60 57       Moto                           Motorway services operator              Bedfordshire                 Dec 08                     843              53              798             4,404         Macquarie Bank, Equity Partners Infrastructure Co, pension funds, management          6
  61 53       Virgin Trains                  Rail operator                           Birmingham                   Mar 08                     841              70              823             3,968         Virgin Group Holdings (51%), Stagecoach (49%)                                         6
  62          Monarch Airlines               Airline and tour operator               Luton Airport                Oct 08                     813              42              705             3,218         Amerald Investments (88%), Atlantic Financial Services (7%), Abaco Holdings (4%)      6
  63 73       Westcoast                      Electronic products distributor         Reading                      Dec 08                    *801              *9              683               896         Joe Hemani (100%)                                                                     6
  64 64       Biffa                          Waste management contractor             High Wycombe                 Mar 08                     777             167              743             5,011         Montagu Private Equity (34%), Global Infrastructure (34%), Lloyds Bank (4%)           6
  65 58       Phones 4U                      Mobile telephone retailer               Newcastle-under-Lyme         Dec 07                     766             121              782             5,772         Providence Equity Partners (72%), Caudwell Trust + others (25%), management (3%)      6
  66 68       Martin McColl                  Convenience store operator              Essex                        Nov 08                  †*760             †*40              700            11,953         Management (80%), Lloyds Banking Group (20%)                                          6
  67 63       Bourne Leisure                 Caravan park operator                   Hemel Hempstead              Dec 08                    *745            *154              745            10,278         Peter Harris, John Cook, David Allen, management                                      6
  68 91       Arup                           Design, engineering consultancy         Central London               Mar 08                     726              70              572             8,929         Employees, through three trusts                                                       6
  69 66       Marshall Group                 Aerospace, motor retailer               Cambridge                    Dec 08                    *724             *29              708             3,950         Michael Marshall and family trusts (58%), others (42%)                                6
  70 72       Shepherd Group                 Builder, manufacturer and developer     York                         Jun 08                     716              51              683             3,713         Shepherd family (100%)                                                                6
  71 77       AF Blakemore & Son             Food distributor                        Wolverhampton                Apr 08                     710              17              643             5,267         Peter Blakemore and family (100%)                                                     6
  72 67       Greenhous Group                Car dealer                              Shrewsbury                   Dec 08                     690                8             703               755         Derek Passant (50%), Kerry Finnon (50%)                                               6
  73 59       First Quench Retailing         Off-licence operator                    Hertfordshire                Jun 08                    †686            †-12              774             9,532         Vision Capital (98%), Pension Corporation (led by Edmund Truell) (2%)                 6
  74 78       John Laing                     Infrastructure investor and developer   Central London               Dec 08                    *685             *30              639             1,127         Funds managed by Henderson Equity Partners                                            6
  75 79       OCS Group                      Property services provider              Croydon                      Mar 08                     674              31              633            60,293         Goodliffe family (100%)                                                               6
  76          PSN                            Oil services provider                   Aberdeen                     Dec 08                    *664             *40              602             5,583         Lloyds Banking Group (40%), management (37%), West Coast Capital (8%)                 6
  77 93       Merlin Entertainments          Visitor attraction operator             Poole                        Dec 08                     662             201              484             9,778         Blackstone (48%), Kirkbi Invest (22%), Dubai Intl Capital (18%), management (12%)     6
  78 76       Peacock Group                  Fashion retailer                        Cardiff                      Mar 08                     662              74              653            12,332         Och Ziff (24%), Perry Capital (24%), Echelon (8%), ELQ (6%), management (38%)         6
  79 37       House of Fraser                Department store operator               Central London               Jan 08                     661              61             *707             5,595         Baugur, Don McCarthy, Glitnir, West Coast Capital, Lloyds Banking Group               6
  80          Focus DIY                      DIY retailer                            Crewe                        Feb 08                    †654             †-3             †688             7,216         Cerberus Capital Management (69%), others and management (31%)                        6
  81 88       City Electrical Factors        Electrical parts wholesaler             Warwickshire                 Apr 08                     630              27              592             5,152         Mackie family trusts (100%)                                                           7
  82 82       Bloor Holdings                 Builder and motorcycle maker            Derbyshire                   Jun 08                     628              44              630             2,093         John Bloor (100%)                                                                     7
  83 92       Listers Group                  Car dealer                              Stratford-upon-Avon          Mar 08                     622              16              570             1,481         Terry Lister (27%), Keith Bradshaw (25%), Geoff Lister (15%), others (33%)            7
  84 84       Trailfinders                   Travel organiser                        West London                  Feb 08                     620              12              550             1,208         Mike Gooley (100%)                                                                    7
  85 83       Southern Water                 Water services provider                 Worthing                     Mar 08                    *619            *428              576             1,611         Funds advised by JP Morgan (28%) and UBS (23%); Challenger (16%), others (33%)        7
  86          Dyson                          Vacuum cleaner maker                    Wiltshire                    Dec 07                     611             111              515             2,203         Sir James Dyson and family (100%)                                                     7
  87 87       Gladedale                      Housebuilder                            Epsom                        Dec 07                    *610            *109              644             1,587         Remo Dipre and family (100%)                                                          7
  88 97       Fitness First                  Health club operator                    Poole                        Oct 08                    *610            *135              526            11,657         BC Partners (81%), management (19%)                                                   7
  89          Expro                          Oilfield services provider              Reading                      Mar 08                     610             153              519             4,272         Candover (43%), Goldman Sachs (43%), Alpinvest (14%)                                  7
  90          Mace Group                     Construction project manager            North London                 Dec 08                    *608             *17              531             2,917         Management (100%)                                                                     7
  91          Samworth Brothers              Food producer                           Leicestershire               Dec 08                    *597             *66              568             6,425         Samworth family trusts (100%)                                                         7
  92 89       Hanover Acceptances            Conglomerate                            Central London               Dec 07                     588              53              591             1,933         Gorvy family through Quadriga Holdings (100%)                                         7
  93 100      Travelex                       Foreign exchange operator               Central London               Dec 08                    *584            *122             *499             5,554         Apax (55%), Lloyd Dorfman (28%), management (10%), Standard Chartered (7%)            7
  94 86       DFS                            Furniture retailer                      Doncaster                    Aug 08                    †584             †60              611             2,688         Lord Kirkham and family (100%)                                                        7
  95 81       Welcome Break                  Motorway services operator              Milton Keynes                Jan 08                    †583             †38              631             4,069         Appia Group, management                                                               7
  96 90       JCT600                         Car dealer                              Bradford                     Dec 07                     574              18              538             1,329         Tordoff family and family trusts (100%)                                               7
  97 95       Keepmoat                       Housing regeneration contractor         Doncaster                    Mar 09                    *571             *64              558             2,400         Lloyds Banking Group (20%), management (80%)                                          7
  98          Formula One Administration     Motor racing administrator              Central London               Dec 08                    *571            *175             *464               249         CVC Capital Partners                                                                  7
  99          Firth Rixson                   Precision metal engineer                Sheffield                    Sep 08                    *564            *106              493             1,908         Oak Hill Capital Partners (majority stake), Lehman Brothers, management               7
 100 96       Monsoon                        Clothing and accessories retailer       Central London               Aug 08                    †559             †82              531             4,564         Peter Simon and family (100%)                                                         7
* Pro forma, draft, or not yet filed at Companies House   † Annualised figure

THE RULES OF                                     all companies, except Gala Coral and
                                                 Bet365, sales are taken as turnover as
                                                                                                 before interest, tax, depreciation and
                                                                                                 amortisation (ebitda). Exceptional items,
                                                                                                                                                    all companies, because of different
                                                                                                                                                    treatment of exceptional items and
                                                                                                                                                                                                   be unquoted at the time of publication and
                                                                                                                                                                                                   registered in the UK. Companies may have
ENGAGEMENT                                       reported in a company’s latest accounts,        joint ventures and impairment of assets            staggered adoption of new accounting           their ultimate holding company offshore,
                                                 excluding shares from joint ventures and        were excluded. Exchange rates are as               standards. Unquoted companies are often        as is the case for the Virgin companies,
THE Top Track 100 league table ranks             associate companies, and net of Vat.            quoted in the accounts or the average              run with different profit objectives from      Specsavers and the Vita Group.
Britain’s biggest private companies by           Gala Coral and Bet365 are ranked based          interbank exchange rate for the period.            those of their quoted counterparts.            Exclusions: Co-operative societies were
their latest available sales.                    on gross amounts wagered, to allow fair         For financial years with fewer or more             Data collection: Companies were                excluded because they do not file their                www.famecompanyinfo.com
   Sales are one of the best indicators of       comparison with Betfred, which files the        than 52 weeks, the figures are annualised          identified by researching accounts filed at    accounts at Companies House. Also
size, even if they do not reflect total          gross value of bets placed as its statutory     on a straight pro-rata basis.                      Companies House, as well as financial          excluded were mutual societies such as            Companies with fewer than 50 staff are
performance. League tables of the biggest        turnover. Last year, House of Fraser was        Choice of criteria: Different ways of              data provided by Fame. Where companies         Nationwide building society, provident            also excluded.
private American companies published by          ranked on gross sales value from                measuring companies were considered.               were willing to provide them, Fast Track       associations such as Bupa,                        Incomplete data: Private company
Forbes and Fortune are ranked in the             management accounts. This year, it              Private companies cannot be objectively            also reviewed draft accounts,                  member-owned buying groups such as                information can be incomplete and, while
same way. However, a limitation of               appears lower in the table because it is        and accurately ranked by value. Profits,           management account extracts, pro forma         Nisa-Today’s, and partnerships such as            every effort is made to include all
ranking by sales is that this method is          ranked on turnover, which includes the          either operating or pre-tax, were also not         accounts, and accounts filed in overseas       lawyers, accountants and management               qualifying companies, there may be
biased towards “volume” businesses               commission revenue from in-store                considered wholly appropriate for                  territories. The table is based on historic    consultants. Companies that are majority          omissions. Nominations for next year’s
such as wholesalers and retailers.               concessions, as opposed to gross                unquoted companies, as these businesses            information, with latest available accounts    owned by, or equal joint ventures between,        table are welcome. Some exceptions were
Criteria: Companies are ranked by                concession sales.                               are likely to keep pre-tax profits to a            information ranging from June 30, 2007 to      quoted companies are excluded, as are             made to the qualification criteria set out
unrounded sales but, for clarity, rounded           Companies are not required to be in          minimum to reduce tax. Operating profits           March 31, 2009.                                companies with the majority of sales              above. The compiler’s decision is final and
figures are shown in the league table. For       profit. Profits are defined as earnings         may also not be reported consistently by           Corporate structure: Companies have to         generated by their quoted subsidiaries.           no correspondence will be entered into.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     THE SUNDAY TIMES
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     timesonline.co.uk/business               28.06.09                                3

Ineos fights on through the downturn
Plant Hirer                          114.24%       low-volume producers of valuable,                  come at a price. Although the company            uncertainty facing the business made it
         INEOS GROUP                               specialised chemical compounds, before             has substantially reduced its debts since        too difficult to estimate the value of his
   1    Chemical manufacturer        £23,148m      turning its attention to larger-volume             acquiring Innovene, its debt covenants           fortune.
                                                   commodity producers.                               became harder to stick to last year as              Despite the industry’s problems, Ineos
                                                      The acquisition of BP’s petrochemicals          demand started to collapse and the               continues to look to the future. It recently
THE MAN behind Ineos is not as                     business Innovene for £5.1 billion in              value of Ineos’s oil stocks plummeted.           announced plans to build a £400m
well-known as some of Britain’s other              December 2005 made Ineos the world’s               In December the company’s main lenders           energy-from-waste plant, which will
top entrepreneurs, but in the chemicals            third-largest chemical manufacturer. It            agreed to waive the covenants, giving            supply power to its chemicals factory in
industry he has an impressive reputation           also added the Grangemouth oil refinery,           Ineos time to put together a new 2009            Runcorn, Cheshire. It has also
for making deals. Jim Ratcliffe, a                 scene of last year’s pension strikes, to its       operating budget and a five-year business        developed new technology for
chemical engineer and qualified                    portfolio. The group now consists of               plan. A select group of the company’s            converting household waste
accountant, founded the company in 1998            17 separate businesses, operating 64               lenders have been reviewing that plan,           into bio-ethanol, which
when he led a £91m buyout of Inspec’s              factories in 14 countries and producing            and Ineos hopes it will be able to agree         can be used to power cars.
chemicals division. From his office in             57m tonnes of chemicals a year. It is              new debt covenants in the next few               Within the next few
the New Forest, Ratcliffe then started             Britain’s biggest private company for the          weeks.                                           years it hopes to build the
acquiring the unwanted subsidiaries of             third consecutive year, with sales of                 Ratcliffe, who owns most of the               facilities needed to             Jim
chemical giants such as BP, BASF, ICI and          £23,148m in 2008.                                  company, was left out of the Sunday              produce this fuel in             Ratcliffe
Dow. Initially, Ineos focused on buying               However, aggressive expansion has               Times Rich List this year because the            commercial quantities.



Plant Hirer                          114.24%       The firm plans to open its 28th                    managed by the Coates family and has its         Plant Hirer                          114.24%       company claims 12% of the British fuels           story, which began in 2005 when the
         GALA CORAL                                department store this September in                 head office in Stoke-on-Trent, where it                   VIRGIN ATLANTIC                           market, making it one of Britain’s top            Icelandic investor Baugur and the
  2     Betting and gaming operator £15,032m       Cardiff. The partnership is led by
                                                   chairman Charlie Mayfield.
                                                                                                      also owns Stoke City Football Club. Sales
                                                                                                      in 2009 were up 90% to £3,455m. This
                                                                                                                                                          9     Airline and tour operator   £2,579m
                                                                                                                                                                                                          three fuel suppliers. It supplies enough
                                                                                                                                                                                                          petrol and diesel to fill more than 50
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            original founder Malcolm Walker took
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            the loss-making frozen-food retailer off
WHEN the investors Candover, Cinven                                                                   figure represents the bets placed by             SIR RICHARD BRANSON’s flagship airline             Olympic swimming pools each week                  the stock market. Though Iceland is
and Permira backed Gala Group’s                                                                       customers, rather than the £236m net             reached its 25th anniversary this week,            and customers include fuel retailers Tesco        mainly known for selling frozen food, its
£2.2 billion acquisition of Coral Eurobet          Plant Hirer                                        income from those bets, and excludes the         celebrating with a party in New York and           and Total and the transport operator              best-selling products are milk and bread.
in 2005, they created one of Europe’s                       PALMER AND HARVEY114.24%                  revenue of Stoke City Football Club.             offering customers special birthday deals          First Group. Sales reached £2,363m in             Over the past four years the company’s
biggest betting and gaming operations.
Gala Coral owns 156 bingo clubs,
                                                      5     Wholesale distributor       £4,026m
                                                                                                                                                       on return flights. Despite difficult trading
                                                                                                                                                       conditions in the airline industry, Virgin
                                                                                                                                                                                                          the year ending March 2009.                       losses have been turned into sizeable
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            profits, helped by a reduced product range
27 casinos, 2 greyhound stadiums,                  THIS Hove-based company is one of                  Plant Hirer                        114.24%       Atlantic’s sales grew to £2,579m in 2009.                                                            and high-profile sponsorship of the
telephone and internet betting                     Britain’s biggest wholesalers, helping                      SWIRE                                   The company remains committed to                                                                     reality television show I’m a Celebrity,
businesses, and nearly 2,000 betting
shops. The company’s performance since
                                                   supermarkets, convenience stores and
                                                   petrol stations keep their shelves stocked.
                                                                                                         8    Conglomerate              £3,244m
                                                                                                                                                       reducing its environmental impact. Its
                                                                                                                                                       plans include the addition of the Boeing
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Plant Hirer
                                                                                                                                                                                                            11
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     114.24%
                                                                                                                                                                                                                   EUROPEAN METAL RECYCLING                 Get Me Out of Here. Sales climbed to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            £2,081m in 2009.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Metal recycler             £2,243m
2006 has been hit by the smoking ban,              The company handles 69,000 products,               FOUNDED by John Swire in 1816 as an              787 Dreamliner to its fleet, which could
higher taxes and changes in gambling               from ice cream and fresh fruit to                  import-export business, today Swire is a         help to make flights nearly 30% more fuel          WARRINGTON-based European Metal
regulation, prompting its private-equity           cigarettes and newspapers. It owns the             global conglomerate with operations in           efficient. Chief executive Steve Ridgway           Recycling puts a scrapped car through its         Plant Hirer                             114.24%
backers to substantially write down the            franchises Mace, Supershop and Your                industries such as shipping, cold storage,       leads the business from its headquarters           crushing machines every 30 seconds. In                     BRAKES GROUP
value of their investments. Gala Coral
has now asked the investment bank
                                                   Store and the van-distribution service
                                                   P&H Snacksdirect. It also provides retail
                                                                                                      road transport and agriculture. The group
                                                                                                      has its headquarters in London, but its
                                                                                                                                                       in Crawley, West Sussex.                           total, the company recycles 10m tonnes
                                                                                                                                                                                                          of waste metal every year, salvaged from
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              14        Food distributor            £2,048m
Lazard to help raise £200m of extra                outlets with electronic point-of-sale              operations extend as far as China, Papua                                                            consumer products, factory offcuts and            THIS food distribution group can trace its
funding. The company’s leap up this                systems, cash machines and hot food and            New Guinea, Australia, Sri Lanka and             Plant Hirer               114.24%                  demolished buildings. To help handle a            history to 1958, when three brothers
year’s league table is due to being ranked         drink vending machines. Chairman                   America. Swire also owns 38.2% of Swire                   GREENERGY INTERNATIONAL                   wider range of materials, last year the           established a business to supply poultry
on gross amounts wagered in 2008 of
£15,032m rather than on its net income
                                                   Christopher Adams led a debt-funded
                                                   £298m management buyout last year,
                                                                                                      Pacific, a company listed on the Hong
                                                                                                      Kong stock exchange with subsidiaries
                                                                                                                                                         10     Fuel supplier               £2,363m
                                                                                                                                                                                                          company entered into a joint venture
                                                                                                                                                                                                          with MBA Polymers, an American
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            to caterers. Today the Kent company
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            employs more than 9,000 staff and claims
of £1,269m.                                        when sales reached £4,026m.                        that include the airline Cathay Pacific          GREENERGY produces and sells petrol,               plastics recycling specialist. Together           to be Britain’s leading supplier to the
                                                                                                      and a Coca-Cola bottling business. Still         diesel and biofuel to oil companies,               they are developing a £17.1m plant in             catering industry, with customers
                                                                                                      under family control, and chaired by             supermarkets, transport operators and              Nottinghamshire, which each year will             ranging from schools to hotels. The group
Plant Hirer                          114.24%       Plant Hirer                          114.24%       James Hughes-Hallett, the group raised           industrial users. Co-founded in 1992 by            recover 60,000 tonnes of plastic                  consists of the original Brakes brand and
         STEMCOR                                            LAING O’ROURKE                            its sales to £3,244m in 2008.                    chief executive Andrew Owens, the                  by-products from old cars and electrical          a number of smaller specialist businesses,
  3     Steel trader                 £6,289m
                                                      6     Construction contractor     £3,603m
                                                                                                                                                                                                          appliances. Owned by the Sheppard
                                                                                                                                                                                                          family, the company achieved sales of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            including M&J Seafood, a fresh-fish
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            supplier, and the baker Country Choice.
MAJORITY-OWNED by chairman Ralph                   LAING O’ROURKE is project-managing                                                                                                                     £2,243m in 2007 under managing director           Bain Capital backed a £1.3 billion
Oppenheimer and his family, this                   developments for the 2012 Olympics, as                                                                                                                 Colin Iles.                                       secondary buyout from Clayton, Dubilier
business trades steel and provides                 well as building the prestigious One Hyde                                                                                                                                                                & Rice in 2007, led by chief executive
marketing, finance and logistics services          Park apartments in Knightsbridge.                                                                                                                                                                        Frank McKay. Last year the company
to the steel industry. Although tumbling           Founded more than 30 years ago by                                                                                                                      Plant Hirer               114.24%                 acquired Woodward Foodservice, which
steel prices have hit profit margins,              chairman and chief executive Ray                                                                                                                                ARNOLD CLARK AUTOS                       distributes food to the catering trade.
Stemcor’s turnover still rose 48% to
£6,289m in 2008. Acquisitions continue to
                                                   O’Rourke, the construction company has
                                                   worked on landmark developments such
                                                                                                                                                                                                            12    Car dealer                 £2,210m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Sales topped £2,048m in 2008.

play a part in the company’s growth, and           as Heathrow Terminal 5 and the revamped                                                                                                                SIR ARNOLD CLARK started his own
in the past year it has added steel stock-         St Pancras station. It has offices in                                                                                                                  business in the 1950s when he left his job        Plant Hirer GROUP                       114.24%
holding operations in Britain, France,             Britain, Germany, India, the United Arab                                                                                                               as an RAF motor mechanics instructor.                      SCH
Spain and Australia.                               Emirates and Australia, where it recently
                                                   won a $1 billion contract to improve the
                                                                                                                                                                                                          He paid £70 for a Morris car that he
                                                                                                                                                                                                          refurbished and sold for a profit, before
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              15        IT infrastructure integrator £2,041m
                                                   country’s railway infrastructure. Sales,                                                                                                               opening his first car showroom in                 FOUNDER and chief executive Sir Peter
Plant Hirer               114.24%                  including those from various joint                                                                                                                     Glasgow in 1954. The company now has              Rigby invested £2,500 to start Specialist
         JOHN LEWIS PARTNERSHIP                    ventures, grew to £3,603m in 2008.                                                                                                                     145 branches, buying and selling used             Computer Holdings in 1975. Today the
  4     Food and general retailer    £6,149m
                                                                                                                                                                                                          and new cars as well as offering repairs,
                                                                                                                                                                                                          servicing, vehicle rental and insurance.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            company is one of the biggest
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            independent IT service providers in
THIS high-street giant’s 69,000                    Plant Hirer                          114.24%                                                                                                           It is still run by Clark and sales reached        Europe, helping clients such as British
permanent employees are “partners” in                       BET365                                                                                                                                        £2,210m in 2008.                                  Airways, BMW, Heinz and HM Revenue
the business, taking home a share of the
profits every year. The group includes 27
                                                      7     Online bookmaker            £3,455m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            & Customs to optimise their technology
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            infrastructure. The group has a network
John Lewis department stores, more than            THIS company offers odds on everything                                                                                                                 Plant Hirer                         114.24%       of 80 European offices, supported by a
200 Waitrose supermarkets and an                   from Premier League football to the                                                                                                                             ICELAND                                  multilingual service centre in Romania.
online and catalogue business. The
economic downturn has made life
                                                   Oscars. It was founded in 1974, but in
                                                   2005 it sold its chain of betting shops to
                                                                                                                                                                                                            13    Frozen food retailer       £2,081m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It also has partnerships with other IT
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            providers in countries including South
difficult for retailers, but although John         Gala Coral to focus on its online business.                                                                                                            IN January, Iceland announced plans to            Korea and Australia. James Rigby, the
Lewis suffered a slight dip in group               Bet365 now provides punters in 140                                                                                                                     create 2,500 jobs, after adding 51 former         founder’s son, is managing director of
profits, its sales grew to an annualised           countries with internet betting, casino                                                                                                                Woolworth sites to its 663 stores. This was       the company’s British operations. Group
£6,149m in the year to January 2009.               games and poker. It is owned and                                                                                                                       the latest chapter in Iceland’s turnaround        sales reached £2,041m in 2008.




Be bold and prepare
for the recovery
                                                                                                                  tough retail environment, its
                                    Standing still can be riskier than                                            sales grew £141m to £1.4 billion
                                                                                                                  in 2008 as shoppers switched
                                    acting now to position your                                                   to its range of value goods and
                                                                                                                  homeware. Shop Direct Group
                                    company for the future, says                                                  (No 20), the internet and cata-
                                                                                                                  logue retailer owned by Sir Dav-
                                    Deloitte’s Stuart Counsell                                                    id and Sir Frederick Barclay,
                                                                                                                  has snapped up the online oper-
                                                                                                                  ations of Woolworths, now in
                                                                                                                  administration. Meanwhile,
           he iconic digger busi-      that are struggling to survive.         property or brands. What’s         the fashion retailer New Look



T          ness JCB knew that
           recession was on the
           way when custom-
           ers and dealers start-
ed to say that their workloads
were declining.
   As early as the winter of
                                       Cutting costs, preserving cash
                                       and finding new customers
                                       have become more important
                                       than ever at a time when it is
                                       hard to obtain bank loans and
                                       consumers are changing their
                                       spending habits. As the reces-
                                                                               more, they are entrepreneurial
                                                                               and flexible enough to think
                                                                               and act quickly, making bold
                                                                               investments in product devel-
                                                                               opment or acquisitions. Crucial-
                                                                               ly, they are excellent communi-
                                                                               cators, close enough to clients
                                                                                                                  (No 30) has increased its trad-
                                                                                                                  ing space in response to grow-
                                                                                                                  ing demand for a range that
                                                                                                                  now includes menswear and
                                                                                                                  children’s clothes.
                                                                                                                     By contrast, many of the Top
                                                                                                                  Track 100 companies that have
2007, construction companies           sion continues, clinging to the         to get an early grasp of chang-    completed highly-leveraged
began to reveal that orders            status quo has become riskier           ing demand, and persuasive         private-equity deals are strug-
were slowing. As a result, JCB,        than stepping out of the box.           enough to win support for          gling to shore up their financial
at No 16 in the Top Track 100,            JCB is among the Top Track           unpopular action like making       position and find new clients
scaled back production, cut its        100 companies that have the             workers redundant.                 and markets. Despite years of
workforce and reduced its              financial strength and organis-            Wilkinson, the low-cost         successful trading, they are
inventory. By the first quarter        ational agility to take decisive        retailer at No 29 in the Top       weighed down by huge debt
of this year, the equipment-           action. These companies have            Track 100, is another family-      repayments that are proving
maker had shed 30% of its staff        low fixed costs, a good cash posi-      owned firm that has moved          difficult to renegotiate as the
and slashed output by 65%.             tion, a broad range of custom-          swiftly to exploit opportunities   credit crisis continues.
   “I speak to customers and           ers and valuable assets such as         in the downturn. Despite the          But it is not too late to posi-
dealers around the world every                                                                                    tion a business for long-term
day — and I listen to what they                                                                                   survival and success. Strength-      On the right track: JCB cut back production quickly when the construction industry slumped last year
say,” said Matthew Taylor,                                                                                        ening the balance sheet is the
chief executive. “We are a lean                                                                                   first step for getting through
company so we were able to act                                                                                    tough economic times. Cash           the road. In response, the firm       years since the over-fifties trav-    and unions about trading con-           survive the present downturn
quickly. We made redundan-                                                                                        flow must be monitored and           has renegotiated contracts with       el and insurance business Saga        ditions. Last year, thousands           but emerge to become winners
cies, but we have also saved                                                                                      maximised, customer credit           suppliers, revised store and fore-    merged with the AA to form            of assembly workers agreed to           in the medium term. Our broad-
some jobs, and we ended 2008                                                                                      tightly controlled, and inven-       court layouts and changed its         Acromas (No 23), the company          work a four-day week to pre-            ly based advisory teams are
with fewer machines in stock                                                                                      tories aggressively managed.         employment practices, hiring          has continued to increase sales       vent 350 staff from losing their        assisting companies as they
than in 2007.”                                                                                                       Next, companies should set        more part-time workers to help        by focusing not just on attract-      jobs. “It speaks volumes about          shape their response to these
   The company has focused on                                                                                     about optimising their opera-        cope with the peaks and               ing new customers, but on             our relationship with our work-         difficult market conditions.
building business in the emerg-                                                                                   tional performance. Over the         troughs of the business.              introducing existing customers        force that it was the union that           Astute managers like those
ing markets of Russia and the                                                                                     past 12 months, many firms in           Considering how customers’         to new services.                      suggested we move to a shorter          at the helm of many Top Track
Middle East, and it has launched                                                                                  the league table have taken          purchasing behaviour might               Communication with staff           working week and that every-            100 companies know their sur-
new machines for the recycling                                                                                    steps to improve efficiency by       change is another important           and other stakeholders is cru-        one was prepared to take a hit          vival depends on taking bold
and agricultural industries.                                                                                      cutting costs and even invest-       step in surviving a recession.        cial to survival. To get employ-      to save each other’s jobs,” said        steps to position the business
Unsurprisingly, JCB’s sales fell                                                                                  ing in technological and logisti-    Are they more concerned with          ees to back unpopular action          Taylor.                                 for the future. If they steer the
£123m to £2.01 billion last year,                                                                                 cal improvements.                    quality? Or are they now plac-        such as redundancy, managers             Looking ahead, we know               right course, they could emerge
but it appears to be in good                                                                                         Over the past year, for exam-     ing a greater emphasis on cost?       must explain the threats the          that the recession is likely to be      from the downturn even leaner
shape for the eventual upturn.                                                                                    ple, sales at the motorway serv-     Is service and after-care a prior-    organisation is facing, articu-       longer and deeper than we had           and stronger than before.
   Across Britain, the economic                                                                                   ices operator Welcome Break          ity? Companies need to com-           late the changes that are             originally hoped. Deloitte’s            n Stuart Counsell, head of
downturn is dividing firms into                                                                                   (No 95) have been hit by rising      pete more effectively for the         required and convey how indi-         response — “Winning. In chal-           Deloitte’s private company pro-
those that are finding a way                                                                                      fuel costs and the falling           business that is still available.     viduals will be affected.             lenging markets and beyond”             gramme, was talking to Catherine
through the turmoil and those          Wilkinson has attracted shoppers looking for good value                    number of vans and lorries on           For example, in the two               JCB spoke regularly to staff       — is to help our clients not only       Wheatley
    4             TOP TRACK 100: Britain’s biggest private companies
Plant Hirer                             114.24%       Chief executive Mark Newton-Jones has             insurance and holidays for the                 Plant Hirer (GB)                     114.24%       with its lenders and customers to                   Plant Hirer CLARK                       114.24%
         JCB                                          also revamped the product range, which            over-fifties, joined forces with the AA                 MRH                                       restructure the financing of the business.                   C&J
 16     Construction machine maker £2,010m            includes everything from clothing to
                                                      garden furniture. Shop Direct Group’s
                                                                                                        motoring organisation in 2007. The two
                                                                                                        brands still trade separately but share
                                                                                                                                                        26     Fuel retailer and distributor £1,432m      TI Automotive is led by chairman and
                                                                                                                                                                                                          chief executive William Kozyra and is
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               33        Shoe retailer and wholesaler £1,122m
FOUNDED by Joseph Cyril Bamford in                    holding company, March UK, reported               many of their systems and processes to         THIS Essex company, formed in 2007 to              owned by Oaktree Capital, Duquesne                 THIS business started producing footwear
1945, JCB’s distinctive, yellow                       annualised sales of £1,762m for 2008.             save costs. Acromas now has almost 18m         acquire the petrol companies Malthurst             Capital and JP Morgan, which bought                in the 1820s, when James Clark began to
construction and earthmoving                          This year the group bought the online             customers. The company is controlled by        and Pace Petroleum, operates more than             it for an undisclosed sum in 2007.                 make sheepskin slippers from the offcuts
machinery is easily spotted on building               operations of Woolworths.                         Saga’s former private-equity owner             300 petrol stations and supplies almost                                                               produced by his family’s tannery. It is
sites and roadworks across Britain. Now                                                                 Charterhouse, the AA’s backers CVC and         140 independent fuel retailers. MRH                                                                   still owned by the Clark family and
run by the founder’s son, Sir Anthony                                                                   Permira, management and staff.                 says it is responsible for almost 4%               Plant Hirer                          114.24%       headquartered in rural Somerset, but
Bamford, the business is the third-biggest                                                              The group is led by chief executive            of the motor fuel sold in Britain. The                      WILKINSON                                 today most of its shoes are made in
construction-equipment maker in the
world, with about 12% of the global
                                                                                114.24%
                                                      Plant Hirer ROBERT MCALPINE
                                                        21
                                                               SIR                                      Andrew Goodsell, and its sales reached
                                                                                                        £1,545m in 2008.
                                                                                                                                                       company also sells direct to farmers,
                                                                                                                                                       large commercial users and households
                                                                                                                                                                                                           29     Value retailer               £1,364m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Vietnam, China and Brazil. With brands
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             including Clarks, K Shoes and Originals,
                                                               Construction contractor    £1,697m
market. The company has been hit hard                                                                                                                  with oil-fired boilers across southwest            A LOT has changed for this Nottingham-             the company claims to be the world’s
by the credit crunch, and sales in 2008               FOUNDED by Sir Robert “Concrete Bob”                                                             England, the Midlands and East Anglia.             shire company since JK Wilkinson                   biggest supplier of casual footwear,
fell to £2,010m. JCB says that demand                 McAlpine in 1869, this civil-engineering          Plant Hirer                         114.24%    Barclays Private Equity bought a 38%               opened his first hardware and DIY store            selling 50m pairs of shoes every year.
for some of its machinery has fallen by               and building company had a hand in the                     EMI                                   stake in the group in March 2008 for an            in 1930. Wilkinson’s range of products has         Chief executive Peter Bolliger saw sales
as much as 35%, and the company has
made a series of job cuts since July 2008.
                                                      original Wembley stadium, Great
                                                      Ormond Street hospital, Canary Wharf,
                                                                                                         24     Music publisher and producer £1,458m   undisclosed sum, and a new
                                                                                                                                                       management team joined chief executive
                                                                                                                                                                                                          now broadened to include home goods,
                                                                                                                                                                                                          toiletries, toys and perfume at value
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             reach £1,122m in the year to January 2009.

                                                      the Millennium Dome, the Eden Project             EMI records and publishes the work of          Graham Peacock and finance director                prices. The company claims that 4m
                                                      and Arsenal’s Emirates stadium. The               hundreds of musical acts, including big        Susan Tobbell. Sales grew to £1,432m in            customers visit its stores every week,              Plant Hirer                             114.24%
                                                      group also has good green credentials.            names such as Lily Allen, Coldplay and         2008. Management owns the other 62%                and it has a website where customers                         BETFRED
Plant Hirer
 17
         BESTWAY GROUP                  114.24%
                                                      Its RES subsidiary is one of the world’s          Kylie Minogue. It was founded in 1887          of the company.                                    can save money on big items such as
                                                                                                                                                                                                          home furnishings and garden furniture.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               34        Bookmaker                   £1,116m
        Cash and carry operator         £1,895m
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Wilkinson is now under the third                   BETFRED claims to be one of the world’s
SIR ANWAR PERVEZ founded Bestway as                                                                                                                                                                       generation of family ownership with                biggest independent bookmakers, with a
a single grocery store in 1963. Since then                                                                                                                                                                JK Wilkinson’s granddaughters,                     chain of 750 betting shops across Britain,
Bestway Group has grown to become                                                                                                                                                                         Karin Swann and Lisa Wilkinson,                    and a strong presence on the internet.
one of Britain’s largest cash-and-carry                                                                                                                                                                   jointly chairing the firm. Despite the             The company’s online business, which
operators, helped by its acquisition of                                                                                                                                                                   tough retail environment, the company’s            includes poker, casino, bingo and betting
rival Batley’s in 2005. The group’s other                                                                                                                                                                 sales grew to £1,364m in 2008.                     sites, is now run under licence by a
interests include the milling of food                                                                                                                                                                                                                        separate company based in Gibraltar.
staples, cement factories in Pakistan                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Chairman Fred Done started Betfred with
that produce more than 5m tonnes of                                                                                                                                                                       Plant Hirer                          114.24%       his brother Peter in 1967 when they
cement a year, and a 31% stake in                                                                                                                                                                                  NEW LOOK                                  opened a betting shop in Salford. The
Pakistan’s third-biggest bank.
The group’s sales reached £1,895m in
                                                                                                                                                                                                           30     Fashion retailer             £1,325m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             company’s sales grew to £1,116m in 2008.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             This figure represents all the money
2008, including a £344m contribution                                                                                                                                                                      WEYMOUTH-BASED New Look is already                 wagered by customers, rather than the
from the associated grocery wholesale                                                                                                                                                                     a prominent player on the high street,             net income from those bets.
business, Bestway Northern.                                                                                                                                                                               with more than 610 stores in Britain and
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ireland. The company says it aims to
                                                                                                                                                                                                          become the world’s favourite value                  Plant Hirer                             114.24%
                                                                                                                                                                                                          fashion retailer. It already has 25                          LINPAC
Plant Hirer
 18
         ARCADIA                        114.24%
                                                                                                                                                                                                          franchises in the Middle East and Russia,
                                                                                                                                                                                                          and 325 stores in France and Belgium,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               35        Packaging maker             £1,101m
        Fashion retailer                £1,847m
                                                                                                                                                                                                          most of which are owned by its Mim                 IN 2003 Montagu Private Equity bought a
TRADING CONDITIONS on Britain’s high                                                                                                                                                                      subsidiary. New Look’s majority owners             47% stake in this family-owned packaging
streets may be tough, but Arcadia’s                                                                                                                                                                       are the private-equity investors Permira           maker, valuing the group at £860m.
Topshop and Topman brands enjoyed a                                                                                                                                                                       and Apax Partners, which backed                    Linpac has since sold off numerous
surge in online sales this year. Sir Philip                                                                                                                                                               founder Tom Singh’s bid to delist the              subsidiaries and acquired firms that are
Green’s Arcadia group also encompasses                                                                                                                                                                    company from the stock market in 2004.             closer to its core business. With
brands such as Burton, Dorothy Perkins,                                                                                                                                                                   Chief executive Carl McPhail raised sales          operations across the globe, the company
Wallis, Evans and Miss Selfridge. With                                                                                                                                                                    16% to £1,325m in 2009.                            makes and distributes food packaging,
more than 2,500 outlets across Britain,                                                                                                                                                                                                                      plastic containers and speciality products
and a network of international franchises                                                                                                                                                                                                                    such as litter and recycling bins. Group
selling clothes in 30 countries, sales                                                                                                                                                                    Plant Hirer                          114.24%       chief executive Mike Arrowsmith
reached £1,847m in 2008. The Green                                                                                                                                                                                 SPECSAVERS                                oversaw sales of £1,101m in 2007. The
family also owns BHS, ranked in this list
at No 56, the operations of which may
                                                                                                                                                                                                            31    Optician                     £1,181m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             company is negotiating with its lenders
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             after they rejected Montagu’s proposals
soon be merged with Arcadia.                                                                                                                                                                              HAILED as Britain’s most trusted optician          for restructuring the business’s finances.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          by Reader’s Digest, Specsavers claims to
                                                                                                                                                                                                          provide glasses to a third of the nation’s
Plant Hirer               114.24%                     High and low notes: Chris Martin of Coldplay, one the groups tied to the struggling EMI, run by Guy Hands, inset                                    spectacle wearers. Husband and wife                 Plant Hirer                             114.24%
         ANGLIAN WATER GROUP                                                                                                                                                                              Doug and Dame Mary Perkins started                           FINDUS GROUP
 19     Water services provider         £1,811m
                                                      leading developers of renewable-energy            and its vast back-catalogue includes
                                                                                                                                                                                                          the business from the spare room of their
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Guernsey home in 1984. Since then it has
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               36        Food producer               £1,091m
                                                                                                                                                       Plant Hirer
                                                                                                                                                                SSP                         114.24%
THIS Cambridgeshire company pumps                     projects and has built dozens of wind             everything from Edith Piaf to the Beach                                                           expanded across Britain and Ireland                KEEPING fish on your dish is the aim of
1.2 billion litres of drinking water a day
to homes and businesses across eastern
                                                      farms, including the huge Lone Star site
                                                      in Texas. The group is still owned and
                                                                                                        Boys and the Beatles. Guy Hands took
                                                                                                        the role of chairman in 2007 when his
                                                                                                                                                        27     Travel food service provider £1,426m       and into the Netherlands, Scandinavia,
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Spain, Australia and New Zealand. It now
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             this Grimsby food producer, formed in
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             2002 when the private-equity firm
England, and pipes away nearly as much                managed by the McAlpine family and its            private-equity house Terra Firma bought        SSP operates catering outlets in more              operates more than 1,370 stores, run in            Capvest backed the £137m management
waste water. It was taken private for                 sales hit £1,697m in 2008.                        EMI for £2.4 billion. Since then, the          than 140 airports and 300 railway stations         partnership with independent                       buyout of seafood supplier Young’s
£2.3 billion in late 2006 by Osprey                                                                     company has slashed costs to increase          across 32 countries. It owns a number of           optometrists, and sells hearing aids as            Bluecrest. Trading mainly through its
Acquisitions, a consortium that includes                                                                profits in the face of a plummeting CD         familiar brands, including Upper Crust,            well as spectacles and contact lenses.             Findus and Young’s Seafood subsidiaries,
Canadian and Australian institutional                 Plant Hirer                         114.24%       market. Sales dropped 19% to £1,458m in        Caffè Ritazza, Harry Ramsden’s and                 Sales reached £1,181m in the year to               the company claims that it supplies 40%
investors alongside the private-equity                         THAMES WATER                             2008. Terra Firma recently said the value      Millie’s Cookies. It also runs outlets under       February 2009. The Perkins family still            of the fish eaten in Britain. It recently
house 3i. In May 2008 it sold its Morrison
Utility Services subsidiary, which does
                                                        22     Water services provider    £1,577m
                                                                                                        of its investment in EMI had halved and
                                                                                                        it has twice injected further funding.
                                                                                                                                                       third-party brands such as Starbucks,
                                                                                                                                                       Burger King and M&S Simply Food.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          own 100% of the company.                           paid a reported £1m to buy the Queen’s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             smoked-salmon supplier, Pinneys of
maintenance work for utility customers,               THAMES WATER claims to be the biggest                                                            Formerly part of Compass Group, SSP was                                                               Scotland. Lion Capital backed a
to private-equity buyers Cognetas and                 water and waste-water services business                                                          bought by the Swedish private-equity               Plant Hirer                          114.24%       £1.1 billion tertiary buyout from Capvest
Englefield Capital for £135m. Under group             in Britain, serving 13.6m customers in                                                           firm EQT in 2006. Sales reached £1,426m                     UNITED BISCUITS                           in September 2008. Chris Britton took
chief executive Jonson Cox, sales grew to
£1,811m in 2008.
                                                      southeast England. It also claims it is the
                                                      cheapest, with metered domestic
                                                                                                        Plant Hirer
                                                                                                         25
                                                                                                                 VIRIDIAN                   114.24%
                                                                                                                                                       in 2008 under chief executive Andrew
                                                                                                                                                       Lynch. The group has been hit hard as the
                                                                                                                                                                                                           32     Branded snack maker          £1,179m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             over from Per Harkjaer as chief executive
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             this month. Sales grew to £1,091m in
                                                                                                                Electricity utility         £1,450m
                                                      customers paying an average of 73p a day                                                         number of train and airline passengers             THIS company produces many of                      2008.
                                                      for their water. In December 2006 the             VIRIDIAN is Northern Ireland’s leading         has fallen. EQT reportedly plans to inject         Britain’s favourite snacks, including
Plant Hirer                                           company was bought by a consortium led            energy company, supplying electricity to       a further £100m into the business to               McVitie’s Digestives, Hula Hoops, Jaffa
         SHOP DIRECT GROUP 114.24%                    by the Australian investor Macquarie, in          786,000 businesses and homes through its       encourage lenders to ease their terms.             Cakes, Twiglets, Penguins and the
 20     Internet, catalogue retailer    £1,762m
                                                      an £8 billion deal. Macquarie is now plan-
                                                      ning to sell some of its UK investments,
                                                                                                        subsidiary NIE Energy. The group also
                                                                                                        operates the Huntstown power stations
                                                                                                                                                                                                          recently relaunched Phileas Fogg brand.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          United Biscuits’ products are also well
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Plant Hirer
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               37
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       ENTERPRISE                     114.24%
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Maintenance services        £1,090m
THIS company was formed in 2004, when                 including the M6 toll road, but it is             near Dublin, which can generate up to          Plant Hirer AUTOMOTIVE               114.24%       known in the Netherlands, Belgium,
the billionaire brothers Sir David and Sir            unlikely that Thames Water will go. The           17% of the whole of Ireland’s electricity               TI                                        France and Ireland, and it has a growing           THIS Lancashire company provides
Frederick Barclay bought the catalogue
retailer Shop Direct and merged it with
                                                      company’s sales reached £1,577m in 2009.          needs. In 2008 Viridian strengthened its
                                                                                                        position in the Irish market for renewable
                                                                                                                                                        28     Car parts maker              £1,395m
                                                                                                                                                                                                          market share in North America, the
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Middle East, Africa and Australia.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             infrastructure maintenance services to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             the public sector and the utilities. It
their Littlewoods business. The company                                                                 energy by acquiring a wind-farm                WITH 18,000 employees and operations               Blackstone and PAI Partners backed a               recently won a contract to maintain and
adopted the Shop Direct Group name in                 Plant Hirer                         114.24%       operator. The group has been backed            in 27 countries, TI Automotive claims its          £1.6 billion secondary buyout of the               renew power-supply systems on the
2008 but still uses Littlewoods and a                          ACROMAS                                  by private equity since 2006, when             fuel tanks, pipes, brake lines and other           company in late 2006 led by executive              London Underground, and has been
number of other brands, including
Kays and Additions Direct. The group
                                                        23     Consumer services provider £1,545m       Bahrain-based Arcapita paid £1.6 billion
                                                                                                        to delist it from the London and Irish
                                                                                                                                                       parts can be found in half the world’s
                                                                                                                                                       cars. Sales dropped 11% to £1,395m in 2007.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          chairman David Fish and chief operating
                                                                                                                                                                                                          officer Jeff van der Eems. Profit margins
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             appointed by Severn Trent Water as its
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             core maintenance provider for the West
trades exclusively through catalogues                 THIS business was created when two of             stock exchanges. Under group chief             The company has been hit by the global             have been squeezed by rising commodity             Midlands. Other clients include the
and the internet, having sold its                     Britain’s best-known companies merged.            executive Peter Bourke, sales rose 42%         slump in car production and earlier this           prices, but sales reached an annualised            Ministry of Defence and BT. Group chief
unprofitable high-street stores in 2006.              Saga, which sells services such as                to £1,450m in 2008.                            year it was reported that it was in talks          £1,179m in 2008.                                   executive Owen McLaughlin and group




Banking ties pay off when times are hard
                                       Stephen Winningham of




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               ‘‘
                                       Lloyds TSB Corporate Markets
                                       explains why he is still able
                                       to lend with confidence                                                                                                                                                                                                                WE ARE INTENT
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               ON BUILDING
           hames Water has                recent years and this has had a          So why are we well-posi-



T          put forward a plan
           to Ofwat, the water-
           industry regulator,
           to spend £5.5 billion
in the next five years on main-
taining and upgrading its vast
network of pipes and facilities
                                          real impact on its ability to
                                          deliver in the corporate debt
                                          and derivative markets, and
                                          with foreign exchange,” said
                                          Andrew Beaumont, head of
                                          treasury at Thames Water. “It’s
                                          a testament to the quality of the
                                                                                tioned to support these success-
                                                                                ful companies as they chase
                                                                                growth in the coming months?
                                                                                   First, and as I mentioned
                                                                                before, Lloyds builds long-term
                                                                                relationships that allow us to
                                                                                continue to support our clients
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                LONG-TERM
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              RELATIONSHIPS
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               WITH CLIENTS
across southeast England des-             organisation that they per-           despite the difficult debt mar-                                                                                                                                                             whole business securitisation
pite the economic downturn.               formed so well with the euro          ket. For example, in April 2009                                                                                                                                                             programme.
   The company, at No 22 in the           bond issue.”                          we helped two of our long-                                                                                                                                                                     During the heady days of
Top Track 100, will finance part             Our commitment to build-           standing clients, John Laing                                                                                                                                                                2006 and 2007 we took a pru-
of the spending from cashflow             ing long-term relationships           (No 74) and the waste-manage-                                                                                                                                                               dent approach to lending.
and retained profits. But it also         with large companies remains          ment firm Viridor, to clinch                                                                                                                                                                Today, our credit ratings indi-
needs to borrow substantial               at the heart of our strategy,         Europe’s largest-ever waste con-                                                                                                                                                            cate that we remain a strong
amounts of money at a time                through challenging economic          tract under the Private Finance                                                                                                                                                             bank with robust capital and a
when conditions in the fin-               conditions as well as the good        Initiative.                                                                                                                                                                                 strong funding position. For
ancial markets remain very                times. We focus on understand-           This was a commission to                                                                                                                                                                 the fifth year running, this year
challenging.                              ing our clients’ businesses and       build and operate collection,                                                                                                                                                               we won the Real FD/CBI FDs’
   Lloyds TSB Corporate Mar-              strategies, as well as the sectors    treatment, incineration and                                                                                                                                                                 Excellence Award for Bank of
kets has been successfully                they trade in, giving us a clear      recycling facilities in Greater                                                                                                                                                             the Year. We are very proud of
arranging finance for Thames              picture of the risks and rewards      Manchester. Lloyds TSB                                                                                                                                                                      this achievement and it clearly
Water since 2007, after the               they present, and allowing us         Corporate Markets is one of                                                                                                                                                                 signals our continued support
utility was bought by Kemble              to raise money and lend with          four mandated lead arrangers        Reservoir built by Thames Water: Lloyds is helping to finance the company’s £5.5 billion spending programme                                             to businesses, through the
Water, a consortium of infra-             confidence.                           providing the commercial debt                                                                                                                                                               highs and lows, and the deep
structure investors led by Mac-              We believe that as 2009            for a contract worth £3.8 billion                                                                                                                                                           and enduring relationships we
quarie. In February, we took              progresses, large mergers and         over 25 years.                      renewables, and oil and gas.       Water Group (No 19). When              company and, in June 2008,             already an established lender to       have with our customers.
advantage of returning activity           acquisitions will remain                 Second, we have teams of sec-    They have a clear picture of the   Anglian Water was purchased            were bookrunner on its €500m           the group when its board                  As the downturn continues
in the bond market to help                scarce. Instead, companies will       tor specialists who can advise      opportunities and risks in-        by the Osprey consortium in            eight-year public bond.                accepted an offer from a consor-       we are well-placed to continue
arrange the company’s first               focus on improving sales and          our largest British and inter-      volved, allowing them to lend      2007, our sector knowledge                Finally, we build lasting re-       tium of infrastructure inves-          supporting larger companies
euro-denominated public bond              margins through organic               national customers. These           with confidence.                   meant we were able to help             lationships with profitable com-       tors. We strengthened our rela-        like those in the Top Track 100.
issue. We are also part of the            growth and refinancing their          expert bankers, working with           To highlight this fact, over    with the financing of the acqui-       panies that enjoy a robust cash        tionship by playing a role in the      We look forward to being part
banking group that is provid-             debts. Despite the downturn,          colleagues in our financial-mar-    recent years we have built a       sition and respond rapidly to an       flow. Take Kelda Group (No 51),        financing of the acquisition,          of their future success.
ing £750m of borrowing facili-            we continue to raise capital for      kets and capital-markets teams      strong understanding of the        opportunity to hedge the inter-        the utility company that owns          providing a credit line to accom-      n Stephen Winningham, manag-
ties over three years.                    our clients in the debt markets       have excellent contacts and a       utilities sector. As well as       est rate on this debt. Since           Yorkshire Water. Kelda was list-       modate index-linked hedging.           ing director, major corporates at
   “The bank has raised the               and to provide innovative and         thorough grasp of all the key       Thames Water, we have              then, we have completed a pri-         ed on the stock exchange until         Latterly we have supported             Lloyds TSB Corporate Markets,
quality of its resources in               flexible advisory services.           industries such as retailing,       worked alongside Anglian           vate placement for the water           early last year, and we were           Yorkshire Water’s planned              was talking to Catherine Wheatley.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    THE SUNDAY TIMES
                                                                                                                                                                                                     timesonline.co.uk/business          28.06.09                            5
managing director Neil Kirkby led a            projects have included helping Vodafone       Plant Hirer BIRDS EYE                114.24%   it has secured a waiver on its covenants      outlet. Today it is one of the nation’s       Plant Hirer
£594m public-to-private buyout in 2007         to double the volume of mobile phones                  IGLO                                  while it negotiates a ¤1.7 billion merger     biggest clothing and accessories retailers.            AURORA FASHIONS 114.24%
backed by 3i. Later that year the company
acquired the Accord maintenance firm for
                                               handled by its Nuneaton repair centre,
                                               and supporting the global launch of the
                                                                                              47     Frozen food producer         £970m     with Dutch rival De Dietrich Remeha.          It has 250 stores worldwide and an
                                                                                                                                                                                          internet site that was recently recognised
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         55     Fashion retailer            £870m
£195m. Sales grew to £1,090m in 2008,          Jaguar XF. The group, originally formed       STILL best known for its fish fingers, peas                                                  by Cosmopolitan magazine as one of the        AURORA FASHIONS was formed this year
including £189m from joint ventures.           in 1987 through a management buyout of        and frozen dinners, Iglo Birds Eye has         Plant Hirer                                   best places on the web to buy handbags.       to buy a number of retail fashion brands
                                               British Leyland’s car-parts division, also    been expanding its product range, from                  MOTT MACDONALD 114.24%               The London company designs everything         owned by Mosaic Fashions, which went
                                               manufactures and supplies automotive,
                                               marine and rail components. Under
                                                                                             sustainably sourced pollock fish fillets to
                                                                                             a new range of diet-friendly meals and
                                                                                                                                             50     Management consultancy   £913m
                                                                                                                                                                                          that it sells to ensure its customers get
                                                                                                                                                                                          exactly what they expect from the brand.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        into administration in February. Brands
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        such as Karen Millen, Coast, Warehouse
Plant Hirer
         MILLER GROUP              114.24%
                                               chief executive John Neill, sales at the      unbreaded fish dishes. The private-equity      FROM safeguarding the future of snow          Sales at Lewis Trust Group, the parent        and Oasis were transferred to Aurora.
 38     Property developer        £1,047m
                                               Oxford company fell to £1,034m in 2008.       firm Permira bought the business from
                                                                                             Unilever for £1.7 billion in 2006, and since
                                                                                                                                            leopards in Siberia and Mongolia, to
                                                                                                                                            mitigating the impact of HIV and Aids in
                                                                                                                                                                                          company of River Island, were £888m
                                                                                                                                                                                          in 2007.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The new company is majority-owned
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        by Kaupthing, together with the former
THESE are tough times for the Miller                                                         then has implemented changes including         Africa, to designing Wembley stadium’s                                                      senior management team of Mosaic,
Group. Last year the Edinburgh                 Plant Hirer                       114.24%     the appointment of chief executive             133 metre high arch, this company                                                           including chief executive Derek Lovelock.
housebuilder and property developer had                 BIBBY LINE GROUP                     Martin Glenn from PepsiCo and the              contributes to a huge range of projects                                                     The Mosaic group’s 2008 sales were up
to cut its British workforce from 2,000 to
1,400 as the housing market slumped.
                                                43     Conglomerate              £1,034m     closure of the company’s Hull
                                                                                             fish-processing plant. The company says
                                                                                                                                            in 120 countries. Mott MacDonald is a
                                                                                                                                            management, engineering and
                                                                                                                                                                                          Plant Hirer
                                                                                                                                                                                           53
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    114.24%
                                                                                                                                                                                                   BOWMER AND KIRKLAND                  nearly 50% to £870m, though this figure
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        includes the sales of Shoe Studio and
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Construction contractor   £885m
Sales in 2008, including those from            THE Bibby Line Group has been in              it remains strong in its key markets of        development consultancy with expertise                                                      Principles, subsidiaries that Aurora has
joint ventures, dropped 20% to £1,047m.        shipping for more than 200 years, with        Britain, Germany and Austria, and sales        in many sectors, including transport,         THIS Derbyshire group offers a range of       not acquired.
The company sold a minority stake to           origins in the Far East spice and silk        in 2008 reached £970m.                         energy, construction, water, health,          services for the construction sector from
Bank of Scotland Corporate in April 2008       trades. Today it operates as a business-
for an undisclosed sum, a move that has        to-business services group, with interests                                                                                                                                               Plant Hirer                         114.24%
provided some stability. Run by chief          in ship-owning and operation, offshore                                                                                                                                                            BHS
executive Keith Miller, nephew of the
founder James Miller, the company
                                               oil and gas services, legal advice, plant
                                               hire, eco-friendly burial parks and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         56     Department store operator   £860m
continues to work on projects that             retailing. In 2008 it acquired the plant                                                                                                                                                 SIR PHILIP GREEN’s BHS remains the
include retail developments in Portugal,       and equipment hire business Garic for an                                                                                                                                                 place on the British high street to buy
Denmark and Hungary.                           undisclosed sum. The group is still owned                                                                                                                                                anything from lingerie to coffee tables.
                                               by the Bibby family and led by managing                                                                                                                                                  Since investing heavily in new stores
                                               director Sir Michael Bibby. Its 2007                                                                                                                                                     and refurbishment, the company has
Plant Hirer                        114.24%     acquisition of 51% of the Costcutter                                                                                                                                                     continued to compete with the likes of
         BMI                                   discount chain helped add £415m to                                                                                                                                                       Marks & Spencer and Debenhams.
 39     Airline operator          £1,046m
                                               sales, which reached £1,034m in 2008.                                                                                                                                                    Green, whose family also owns the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Arcadia fashion group (No18 in this list),
FOUNDED in 1938 to train RAF pilots,                                                                                                                                                                                                    invested £10m in a Fashion Retail
this company now offers more than 2,500        Plant Hirer GROUP                 114.24%                                                                                                                                                Academy in 2006 to develop a new pool of
flights a week. Operating from Heathrow                 VITA                                                                                                                                                                            talent for his companies. Sales dropped
and regional airports, the Derby-based
airline has been adding medium-haul
                                                44     Foam and plastics maker   £1,027m                                                                                                                                                £12m to £860m in 2008, in retail
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        conditions that Green recently described
routes, most recently five new American        THIS company was founded in 1949,                                                                                                                                                        as “horrible”. It was reported in February
destinations, along with services to Tel       when Norman Grimshaw opened a foam                                                                                                                                                       that the operations of BHS may soon be
Aviv, Kiev and Saudi Arabia. It also runs      factory at Oldham in Lancashire. Now                                                                                                                                                     integrated with those of Arcadia.
the budget airline BMIbaby, and in 2007        headquartered in London, the group has
absorbed BA’s franchise operator BMED          operations in 20 countries and makes
for a reported £30m. The German airline        specialist foams and plastics that are used                                                                                                                                              Plant Hirer                         114.24%
Lufthansa, which already owns 30% of           in everything from mattresses and sofa                                                                                                                                                            CAPARO GROUP
BMI, is reported to have finalised a deal to
buy chairman Sir Michael Bishop’s 50%
                                               cushions to high-tech soundproofing.
                                               The company was bought in 2005 by
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         57     Metal engineer              £856m
stake. Sales were £1,046m in 2008.             the American private-equity investor                                                                                                                                                     FOUNDED in 1968 by Lord Paul of
                                               Texas Pacific, now called TPG, for £668m.                                                                                                                                                Marylebone, Caparo Group has a history
                                               TPG and other investors injected a                                                                                                                                                       that dates back to Lord Paul’s father
Plant Hirer                        114.24%     further €60m of capital into the business                                                                                                                                                making steel buckets and agricultural
         PENTLAND GROUP                        in April, when the High Court approved                                                                                                                                                   implements at the back of the family’s
 40     Brand manager and retailer £1,044m     a debt-for-equity swap in which Vita’s
                                               lenders took a stake in the company.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        home in India. Today the company is a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        multinational manufacturing group with
THIS London company may not be a               Under group chief executive                                                                                                                                                              40 sites stretching from America to
household name, but the brands it              Joe Menendez, the company’s sales                                                                                                                                                        Australia. It focuses mainly on advanced
controls certainly are. With offices across    were £1,027m in 2008.                                                                                                                                                                    materials and precision manufacturing
the globe, Pentland Group owns niche                                                         Still going places: BMI offers more than 2,500 flights a week and is adding new medium-haul routes                                         and designed and built the Caparo T1
labels such as Speedo, Berghaus and                                                                                                                                                                                                     sports car, one of the fastest road cars ever
Boxfresh, and has international licences       Plant Hirer                       114.24%                                                                                                                                                made. Led by chief executive Angad Paul,
for the likes of Lacoste and Ted Baker.                 WATES                                                                               education, industry and communi-              specialist subcontracting to the design       Lord Paul’s son, sales hit £856m in 2008.
Founded in 1932, it claims that it was
one of the first British companies to
                                                45     Construction contractor   £1,009m
                                                                                             Plant Hirer
                                                                                              48
                                                                                                      KWIK-FIT                    114.24%
                                                                                                                                            cations. Led by chairman Peter Wickens,
                                                                                                                                            the business is owned by its 13,000
                                                                                                                                                                                          and building of whole projects. Last year
                                                                                                                                                                                          it completed the construction of
                                                                                                     Car repair centre operator   £942m
extensively manufacture in Asia, forming       WITH a history that goes back to 1897,                                                       employees, and generated sales of £913m       Unilever’s new headquarters in Surrey,        Plant Hirer                         114.24%
a division in Hong Kong in the early           this building contractor has worked on        WITH 662 outlets across Britain and 700        in 2008.                                      and is currently redeveloping parts of                 DONCASTERS
1960s. Sales grew to £1,044m in 2008
under chairman Stephen Rubin.
                                               high-profile projects such as the new
                                               infirmary at Royal Hospital Chelsea and
                                                                                             on the Continent under its Kwik-Fit and
                                                                                             Speedy brands, this company helps
                                                                                                                                                                                          Nottingham Trent University. Its Peveril
                                                                                                                                                                                          Homes subsidiary builds more than 150
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         58     Engineering parts maker     £854m
                                               John Moores University. Wates recently        millions of motorists get back on the road.    Plant Hirer                      114.24%      houses across the Midlands each year,         FOUNDED in the 18th century in
                                               won Building magazine’s prestigious           The Edinburgh company is best known                     KELDA GROUP                          and its Homeland Security division            Sheffield, Doncasters specialises in
Plant Hirer
         MATALAN                   114.24%     Major Contractor of the Year award,
                                               which it says reflects its strong perform-
                                                                                             for its tyre, brake and exhaust fitting
                                                                                             service, but it also has a large presence
                                                                                                                                             51     Water utility            £896m
                                                                                                                                                                                          designs and manufactures bespoke
                                                                                                                                                                                          products used by the police and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        engineering hard-to-work alloys into
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        precision components for everything
 41     Value retailer            £1,036m
                                               ance and commitment to sustainability
                                               — it has pledged to stop sending waste to
                                                                                             in the corporate market. In 2005, the
                                                                                             private-equity investor PAI Partners
                                                                                                                                            THIS Bradford-based water utility was
                                                                                                                                            delisted in February 2008 for more than
                                                                                                                                                                                          government security organisations.
                                                                                                                                                                                          Chaired by the founder’s grandson,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        from car and aircraft engines to power
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        station turbines. With manufacturing
JOHN HARGREAVES came up with the               landfill by the end of the decade. Still      backed chief executive Ian Fraser in a         £3 billion by a consortium including          John Kirkland, the company recently           sites across Europe, America, Mexico and
Matalan concept after visiting America in      owned by descendants of Edward Wates,         £800m secondary buyout from CVC. This          Citigroup, GIC and Infracapital, as well as   made several acquisitions, including an       China, its clients include GE, Rolls-Royce,
the 1970s and seeing huge, out-of-town         who founded the business in 1897, the         month Kwik-Fit agreed to sell Pit Stop,        HSBC, which quit the consortium last          American police radar manufacturer.           Boeing and Volkswagen. In 2006, Dubai
retail superstores selling a mixture of        company has been named preferred              which has 400 outlets in Germany, to the       year. Its main subsidiary, Yorkshire          Sales reached £885m in 2008.                  International Capital completed a £700m
homewares and clothing. In 1985, he            bidder for the £270m Building Schools for     private-equity investor BluO. Sales            Water, provides water and sewage                                                            secondary buyout, and in 2007 the
opened the first Matalan store in Preston.     the Future project in Luton. Chairman         reached £942m in 2008.                         services to 4.7m people and 140,000                                                         company paid £251m for an American
By 1995 there were 50 stores across            and chief executive Paul Drechsler                                                           businesses in Yorkshire. Its water            Plant Hirer                       114.24%     manufacturer of fasteners and precision
Britain, and today the company trades          oversaw sales of £1,009m in 2008.                                                            services subsidiary, KWS, is the                       ABBOT GROUP                          components. Led by newly-appointed
from more than 200 locations. The
Lancashire business spent many years
                                                                                             Plant Hirer
                                                                                                      BAXI GROUP                  114.24%   second-largest player in the British
                                                                                                                                            market for outsourced water services.
                                                                                                                                                                                           54     Drilling contractor       £877m       chief executive Bill Ellis, Doncasters
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        raised its sales to £854m in 2008.
listed on the stock exchange, but in 2006
Hargreaves bought out minority
                                               Plant Hirer GROUP
                                                        AMC                      114.24%      49     Heating systems maker        £939m
                                                                                                                                            Under the leadership of chief executive
                                                                                                                                            Kevin Whiteman, turnover topped £896m
                                                                                                                                                                                          ABBOT’s two subsidiaries work with
                                                                                                                                                                                          leading oil and gas companies across the
shareholders with the backing of
Iceland’s Kaupthing bank in a deal
                                                46     Metal trader              £977m
                                                                                             TACKLING climate change is high on
                                                                                             the agenda of this heating systems
                                                                                                                                            in 2008. At the end of last year, the
                                                                                                                                            company unveiled plans to invest
                                                                                                                                                                                          world, from the Arctic conditions of
                                                                                                                                                                                          Siberia to the deserts of north Africa.                20:20 MOBILE GROUP 114.24%
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Plant Hirer
that valued Matalan at £817m. Under
chief executive Alistair McGeorge,
                                               THE AMC Group is a metals company
                                               with a history stretching back to the
                                                                                             manufacturer, which supplies radiators,
                                                                                             boilers and gas fires to customers all over
                                                                                                                                            £1.9 billion over five years in maintaining
                                                                                                                                            the infrastructure of the Yorkshire region.
                                                                                                                                                                                          KCA Deutag is primarily a drilling
                                                                                                                                                                                          contractor, working both onshore and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         59     Mobile-phone distributor    £850m
sales reached £1,036m in 2009.                 formation of the London Metal Exchange        Europe. It offers consumers a choice of                                                      offshore. Bentec specialises in designing     20:20 MOBILE GROUP claims to be one of
                                               in 1877. Today, its industrial division has   green options including its new Ecogen                                                       and building onshore rigs. In March 2008,     the largest distributors of mobile phones
                                               operations across the world, making and       unit, which generates power while also                                                       Abbot was acquired by Turbo Alpha, an         and their accessories in the world. It was
Plant Hirer                        114.24%     distributing metal products and               providing heating. The company was             Plant Hirer                      114.24%      acquisition vehicle controlled by the         formed in 2006 when the private-equity
         UNIPART GROUP                         construction materials to a wide range of     formed in 2000 when Candover and                        RIVER ISLAND                         investment firm First Reserve, in a           firm Doughty Hanson backed a £347m
 42     Logistics operator        £1,034m
                                               industries. Its trading division buys and
                                               sells metals and futures on the London
                                                                                             Electra merged Newmond and Baxi, but
                                                                                             BC Partners took majority control in 2004
                                                                                                                                             52     Fashion retailer         £888m
                                                                                                                                                                                          deal that valued the group at £906m.
                                                                                                                                                                                          Led by chairman Alasdair Locke and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        buyout from its former owner, the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Caudwell Group. In 2007 it acquired
UNIPART provides logistics consultancy         Metal Exchange. The group is run by           in a £633m buyout. The firm is led by          THIS fashion retailer has come a long way     chief executive Holger Temmen,                Axcom, a Nordic handset distributor.
and services to increase its clients’          chief executive Victor Sher and its sales     group chief executive Martyn Coffey, and       since its humble beginnings in 1963 as a      the company raised its sales to an            Under chief executive Meinie Oldersma,
productivity and efficiency. Recent            were £977m in 2008.                           its sales reached £939m in 2008. Baxi says     small East End wool and womenswear            annualised £877m in 2008.                     sales reached £850m in 2008.
    6            TOP TRACK 100: Britain’s biggest private companies
Plant Hirer                         114.24%   with interests in plants that produce a        Plant Hirer                         114.24%     Plant Hirer                                     it was bought by the private-equity firm            Keiller led a $280m buyout, with Bank of
         MOTO                                 total of 100MW. Chief executive Andre                   MARSHALL GROUP                                  GREENHOUS GROUP 114.24%                Vision Capital and Pension Corporation              Scotland Corporate taking a 40% stake.
 60     Motorway services operator £843m      Horbach has ambitious plans to develop
                                              Biffa’s ability to generate energy from
                                                                                              69     Aerospace, motor retailer   £724m
                                                                                                                                              72     Car dealer                 £690m        for £95m in July 2007. In tough trading
                                                                                                                                                                                             conditions, annualised sales dropped 11%
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 The company subsequently embarked on
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 an expansion programme, acquiring an
OVER the past few years, Moto has been        waste, collecting gas from landfills, and      CELEBRATING its centenary this year,            FROM Vauxhalls and Peugeots to DAF              to £686m in 2008.                                   American gulf coast contractor in 2007
introducing M&S Simply Food stores and        using micro-organisms to break down            Marshall Group has changed beyond               trucks, this Shrewsbury car and lorry                                                               and a Calgary-based service engineering
WH Smith outlets at its service stations to   biodegradable refuse. The company was          recognition since it was founded as a           dealer sells and repairs vehicles across                                                            company in 2008. PSN has a presence in
tempt commuters to stop on their way          demerged from Severn Trent in 2006,            chauffeur service for well-heeled               Shropshire, Staffordshire and the West          Plant Hirer                           114.24%       26 countries, including joint ventures in
home. It seems to be working because the      and bought by a consortium of Montagu          students. Run by the founder’s grandson,        Midlands. With 10 car dealerships, the                   JOHN LAING                                 Kazakhstan, Abu Dhabi and Trinidad and
Bedfordshire company claims that 100m
visitors cross its thresholds each year.
                                              Private Equity, Global Infrastructure
                                              Partners and Bank of Scotland Corporate
                                                                                             Michael Marshall, the firm still operates a
                                                                                             fleet of limousines but has grown over the
                                                                                                                                             company claims to be Britain’s biggest
                                                                                                                                             Vauxhall dealer, and it recently invested
                                                                                                                                                                                               74     Investor and developer       £685m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Tobago. In 2007 its sales reached £664m.

It operates 45 sites throughout Britain.      in a £1.7 billion transaction in April 2008.   years into a transport and engineering          £250,000 in an inspection workshop in           CARDIFF’s Millennium Stadium, the M1
The chain was established in 2001, and in     Biffa reported sales of £777m in 2008.         conglomerate. Its activities range from         Wolverhampton. Joint chief executives           motorway and the second Severn Bridge               Plant Hirer               114.24%
2006 a consortium led by Macquarie Bank                                                      operating more than 40 car dealerships,         Derek Passant and Kerry Finnon led a            are among the landmarks completed by                         MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS
bought it from Compass for an estimated
£600m. The New Zealand investor Equity
                                                                                             to designing vehicles for the military and
                                                                                             emergency services. It also services RAF
                                                                                                                                             management buyout in December 2004,
                                                                                                                                             the third such deal since the company
                                                                                                                                                                                             this project manager that was founded in
                                                                                                                                                                                             1848. The company sold its housebuilding
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   77        Visitor attraction operator   £662m
                                              Plant Hirer
                                                       PHONES 4U                  114.24%
Partners Infrastructure Company                                                              Hercules transport planes, runs Marshall        was founded in 1912. Sales reached £690m        and construction contracting arms eight             WHEN it acquired the Tussauds Group for
recently invested £20m for a 17% stake.
Chief executive Tim Moss oversaw sales
                                               65     Mobile telephone retailer   £766m
                                                                                             airport at Cambridge, and offers private        in 2008.                                        years ago, and Laing Rail in 2007. It now           £1 billion in 2007, Merlin Entertainments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 became the largest visitor attraction
of £843m in 2008.                             PHONES 4U is one of the high street’s                                                                                                                                                              operator in the world after Disney. Last
                                              most easily recognised brands, with its                                                                                                                                                            year, 35m people visited its 57 sites, which
                                              bright red and blue shop fronts and                                                                                                                                                                include Legoland, Sea Life, Dungeons,
Plant Hirer                         114.24%   irreverent television ads. The company                                                                                                                                                             Alton Towers and the London Eye.
         VIRGIN TRAINS                        started life in 1996 and grew rapidly to                                                                                                                                                           Roughly half the company’s turnover
 61     Rail operator               £841m
                                              become one of the biggest players in the
                                              competitive mobile-phone retail market.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 comes from overseas operations, and that
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 proportion is set to grow with future
SINCE taking over the Cross Country and       The Newcastle-under-Lyme company                                                                                                                                                                   openings including Madame Tussauds in
West Coast railway lines in 1997, Virgin      has 450 stores, and owns Dial-a-Phone,                                                                                                                                                             Hollywood, Sea Life in Portugal and
Trains has spent more than £2 billion on      a mail-order mobile-phones business.                                                                                                                                                               Legoland parks in Malaysia and Dubai.
improvements, including the                   Founder John Caudwell sold the company                                                                                                                                                             Chief executive Nick Varney has overseen
introduction of Pendolino tilting trains.     to Providence Equity Partners in 2006, in                                                                                                                                                          three buyouts since 1998, including the
The investment has helped to increase         a £1.46 billion deal. Under chief executive                                                                                                                                                        Blackstone-backed £103m tertiary buyout
passenger numbers and profits, and            Tim Whiting, sales at Phones 4U reached                                                                                                                                                            in 2005. Sales grew to £662m in 2008.
sales reached £841m in 2008. London to        £766m in 2007.
Birmingham and London to Manchester
are its most popular routes, but it serves                                                                                                                                                                                                       Plant Hirer                               114.24%
destinations across the Midlands,                                                                                                                                                                                                                         PEACOCK GROUP
northwest England, north Wales and
Scotland. The company also collaborates
                                              Plant Hirer
                                               66
                                                       MARTIN MCCOLL              114.24%
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   78        Fashion retailer              £662m
                                                      Convenience store operator £760m
with Eurostar, offering bargain fares and                                                                                                                                                                                                        HIGH-STREET RETAILERS may be
co-ordinating timetables to cut journey       PROVIDING shoppers with a handy place                                                                                                                                                              suffering, but Peacock says it continues
times to Paris and Brussels. Headed by        to buy their groceries, Martin McColl                                                                                                                                                              to perform strongly as shoppers switch to
chief executive Tony Collins, the             claims its 500 neighbourhood shops make                                                                                                                                                            value products. Offering dresses, shoes
Birmingham-based company is 51%               it Britain’s largest independent chain of                                                                                                                                                          and jeans for less than £20, Peacock and
owned by Virgin Group Holdings and            convenience stores. The Essex company                                                                                                                                                              its subsidiary Bonmarché together
49% by Stagecoach.                            also operates another 100 high-street                                                                                                                                                              operate more than 900 stores in the UK
                                              shops and 675 newsagents. It was created                                                                                                                                                           and another 76 in eastern Europe and the
                                              in 1998 when Forbuoys acquired Martin                                                                                                                                                              Middle East. The company was taken
Plant Hirer                                   Retail Group. In 2005, Bank of Scotland                                                                                                                                                            private by the American hedge funds
         MONARCH AIRLINES 114.24%             backed a £165m buyout from                                                                                                                                                                         Och-Ziff and Perry Capital in 2006 in a
 62     Airline and tour operator   £813m
                                              private-equity investors Montagu and
                                              Electra Partners, and the company
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 £420m deal. Chief executive Richard Kirk
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 plans to open another 40 stores and
MONARCH AIRLINES started business             rebranded its convenience stores as                                                                                                                                                                create 750 new jobs by the end of 2010.
in April 1968 with a charter flight from      McColl’s and its newsagents as Martin’s.                                                                                                                                                           Sales grew to £662m in 2008.
Luton to Madrid, using one of its two         Under chairman and chief executive             Waste eater: Biffa is using micro-organisms to break down refuse and generate energy from the resulting gas
propeller-powered planes. Today the           James Lancaster, sales grew to an
company has a fleet of more than 30 jets,     annualised £760m in 2008.                                                                                                                                                                          Plant Hirer                               114.24%
and flies 6m passengers a year to                                                            aircraft charters using its own fleet of                                                        focuses on infrastructure projects, and                      HOUSE OF FRASER
destinations that include Majorca, Goa
and Florida. Based at Luton airport,
                                                                                             private jets. Sales grew to £724m in 2008.
                                                                                                                                             Plant Hirer
                                                                                                                                              73
                                                                                                                                                                        114.24%
                                                                                                                                                      FIRST QUENCH RETAILING                 recently signed a £640m contract with
                                                                                                                                                                                             the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   79        Department store operator     £661m
                                              Plant Hirer
                                                       BOURNE LEISURE             114.24%                                                            Off-licence operator       £686m
Monarch Airlines is the main subsidiary                                                                                                                                                      Authority to build recycling facilities for         HOUSE of Fraser’s 62 department stores
of the Monarch Holdings group. The
group, led by chief executive Peter Brown,
                                               67     Caravan park operator       £745m      Plant Hirer
                                                                                                      SHEPHERD GROUP             114.24%     APPOINTED chief executive in September
                                                                                                                                             2007, Yvonne Rankin joined this chain of
                                                                                                                                                                                             the region. In December 2006, chief
                                                                                                                                                                                             executive Adrian Ewer led the £1.1 billion
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 in Britain and Ireland offer shopping
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 space equivalent to about 100 football
also runs a number of other businesses
including the package-tour operator
                                              BASED in Hemel Hempstead, Bourne
                                              Leisure is the family business behind
                                                                                              70     Builder and developer       £716m       off-licences with plans to re-shape the
                                                                                                                                             business by developing three distinct
                                                                                                                                                                                             public-to-private buyout of the business,
                                                                                                                                                                                             backed by Henderson Equity Partners.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 pitches. The company’s many famous
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 shops include Jenner’s of Edinburgh and
Cosmos and the accommodation website          Britain’s iconic Butlins brand. This           THIS York-based building company’s              brands: Threshers, Wine Rack and The            Sales, including revenue from joint                 Howell of Cardiff, and in 2008 it opened
Somewhere2stay.com. Group sales               summer the stars of Britain’s Got Talent       residential property division has suffered      Local. Since 2007, 275 of its stores have       ventures, reached £685m in 2008, while              four new stores, including one at
reached £813m in 2008.                        will be performing at its seaside resorts in   since the property bubble burst. However,       been revamped as part of its Wine Rack          profits almost trebled.                             London’s Westfield shopping centre.
                                              Minehead, Skegness and Bognor Regis.           its manufacturing division has fared            brand update. Small convenience ranges                                                              House of Fraser is led by chairman Don
                                              The group also owns 13 Warner Leisure          much better, recording its best-ever            have also been introduced into 360 The                                                              McCarthy and chief executive John King,
Plant Hirer                         114.24%   Hotels and 36 Haven caravan parks, and         performance last year. Under various            Local stores. This is the latest stage in a     Plant Hirer GROUP                     114.24%       and the company is backed by the
         WESTCOAST                            in total attracted more than 4m visitors       brands, including Portakabin, this              review of the company’s operations after                 OCS                                        Icelandic investor Baugur, which paid
 63     Electronic goods distributor £801m    last year. It is chaired by Peter Harris and
                                              owned by the Harris, Cook and Allen
                                                                                             division manufactures modular buildings
                                                                                             such as classrooms, temporary offices and
                                                                                                                                                                                               75     Property services provider   £674m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 £63m for a 35% stake in 2006. Sales
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 reached £661m in 2008. If gross sales
WHOLESALER Westcoast distributes              families. The company made the headlines       machinery housings. Founded by                                                                  OCS takes its name from its mission to              from concessions were included, the
computing products throughout Britain,        recently, when Butlins and Haven               Frederick Shepherd in 1890, the group is                                                        provide its clients with One Complete               total would be more than £1 billion.
spanning the whole spectrum from              experienced a surge in bookings as more        still in the hands of the Shepherd family.                                                      Solution for property services. The
printers and laptop PCs to high-end           Britons opted to holiday at home during        Sales grew to £716m in 2008 under the                                                           Croydon company has operations on five
servers. It supplies goods made by            the recession. Sales were £745m in 2008.       guidance of chairman Alan Fletcher.                                                             continents, providing services ranging              Plant Hirer                               114.24%
Samsung, Hewlett-Packard and                                                                                                                                                                 from building maintenance to catering,                       FOCUS DIY
Microsoft. Sales at Westcoast, which
employs 896 staff, rose to £801m in 2008,
                                                                                                                                                                                             waste management and pest control — it
                                                                                                                                                                                             even rents out birds of prey and handlers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   80        DIY retailer                  £654m
                                              Plant Hirer
                                                       ARUP                       114.24%                              114.24%
                                                                                             Plant Hirer BLAKEMORE & SON
                                                                                                      AF
helped in part by its acquisition of XMA,                                                                                                                                                    to scare off pigeons. The company is                THE housing slump has led to tough
a Nottingham IT firm, in December 2007.
The Reading company is owned and run
                                               68     Engineering consultancy     £726m
                                                                                              71     Food distributor            £710m                                                       owned by the descendants of Frederick
                                                                                                                                                                                             Goodliffe, who set it up as a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 trading conditions for this Crewe-based
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 DIY retailer. The company’s equity and
by Joe Hemani, who founded it in 1984.        A 38KM BRIDGE linking the cities of            THIS business started life in 1917 as a                                                         window-cleaning business in 1900.                   £189m debt were sold in June 2007 for £1
He appeared in the 2008 Sunday Times          Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau, due for           Wolverhampton convenience store.                                                                Under chief executive Chris Cracknell,              by its private-equity owners, Apax and
Rich List with a fortune of £84m.             completion in 2015, will be the latest         Today AF Blakemore is primarily a                                                               sales have grown rapidly, reaching                  Duke Street Capital. New owners
                                              global landmark to benefit from the            grocery distributor, supplying 700 Spar                                                         £674m in 2008.                                      Cerberus and chief executive Bill Grimsey
                                              design work of this engineering                stores across England and Wales.                                                                                                                    closed or sold 80 underperforming stores,
Plant Hirer                         114.24%   consultancy. Since Ove Arup founded the        Through its Tates subsidiary, acquired in                                                                                                           before reporting annualised sales of
         BIFFA                                business in 1946, it has worked on iconic      1994, the company also operates 200 of its                                                                                                          £654m early in 2008. Since then the
 64     Waste management            £777m
                                              structures such as the Sydney Opera
                                              House, the Pompidou Centre in Paris, and
                                                                                             own stores. Additionally, the group owns
                                                                                             a wholesale business comprising nine
                                                                                                                                                                                             Plant Hirer
                                                                                                                                                                                               76
                                                                                                                                                                                                      PSN                          114.24%
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 company has concentrated on improving
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 the performance of its remaining 182
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Oil services provider        £664m
BIFFA is one of Britain’s biggest providers   Cornwall’s Eden Project. Arup has offices      cash-and-carry warehouses, a food                                                                                                                   stores. Grimsey is reportedly considering
of waste-management services. It collects     in 37 countries, and is involved in up to      service business, and a fresh-foods                                                             THIS Aberdeen company specialises in                a Company Voluntary Arrangement —
municipal, commercial and industrial          10,000 projects at any given time. The         division that supplies meat and poultry.                                                        providing engineering, maintenance and              a legal agreement to reduce debt and
waste — some 10m tonnes last year — and       firm is led by chairman Philip Dilley and      Peter Blakemore, grandson of the                                                                operations services to energy companies             interest burdens without entering
sorts, treats, recycles and disposes of it.   wholly owned by its 9,000 employees. Its       founder, is managing director of the                                                            worldwide. It was part of KBR Halliburton           administration. This should give the
Biffa also provides renewable energy,         sales reached £726m in 2008.                   group. Sales increased to £710m in 2008.                                                        until 2006 when chief executive Bob                 remodelled business time to prove itself.




                                                                                                        Don’t ignore technology
                                                                                                        in the struggle to survive
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        video-conference services — is          with “software plus services”,
                                                                                                                                           Microsoft’s Simon Negus                                                      helping many businesses to              where packaged software is
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        make cost savings swiftly.              augmented by a large and pow-
                                                                                                                                           explains how software can help                                               Microsoft’s Office Communi-             erful range of web-based serv-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        cator software brings together          ices from spreadsheets to cus-
                                                                                                                                           firms control costs while building                                           these technologies, which               tomer relationship manage-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        most private companies                  ment systems.
                                                                                                                                           a platform for future growth                                                 already use as individual tools,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        in a seamless service that en-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Companies that can invest
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                in cutting-edge technology
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ables staff to reach one another        today will be in a stronger posi-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        whether they are connected to           tion when the recovery arrives.
                                                                                                                     s the recession goes    term improvements, a focus on          For example, John Lewis             a computer, a mobile or anoth-          For example, the supermarket



                                                                                                        A            on, Top Track 100
                                                                                                                     companies and the
                                                                                                                     rest of corporate
                                                                                                                     Britain are reduc-
                                                                                                        ing costs, reining in spending
                                                                                                        and wringing extra perform-
                                                                                                        ance from their resources.
                                                                                                                                             software can deliver benefits.
                                                                                                                                                With our partners, we can
                                                                                                                                             provide a platform and tools to
                                                                                                                                             help organisations survive and
                                                                                                                                             perhaps even grow through the
                                                                                                                                             tough times ahead. Software
                                                                                                                                             can manage information, opti-
                                                                                                                                                                                 Partnership (No 4) has been
                                                                                                                                                                                 evaluating how the Windows
                                                                                                                                                                                 Server 2008 operating system
                                                                                                                                                                                 can improve security, increase
                                                                                                                                                                                 productivity and reduce energy
                                                                                                                                                                                 consumption by removing at
                                                                                                                                                                                 least one server from each site.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        er type of handset. Now, senior
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        managers can sit in their offic-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        es or homes anywhere in the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        world and engage in virtual
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        meetings through their desk-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        top computers. With Office
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Communicator they can see
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                giant Tesco is among the com-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                panies considering Microsoft
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Surface, an innovation that is
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                set to transform consumers’
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                experiences in stores and res-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                taurants by providing a new
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                channel to promote and deliver
                                                                                                           At Microsoft we are showing       mise supply-chain functions         Meanwhile, Firth Rixon (No 99)         and talk to one another, share          products and services.
                                                                                                        large companies across all sec-      and provide detailed, accurate      has negotiated a tailored financ-      video clips or watch Power                 When objects are placed on
                                                                                                        tors how our technology, skills      financial and operational per-      ing solution to sign a Microsoft       Point presentations.                    the interactive touch-screen
                                                                                                        and partners can help to con-        formance indicators.                Volume Licensing Agreement                Virtualisation is an impor-          table the technology can call up
                                                                                                        trol costs and make money               In the era of the internet,      and upgrade staff to the latest        tant and increasingly popular           a huge range of information to
                                                                                                        while building a platform for        technology also offers new          Office system.                         way of cutting IT infrastructure        help customers. For example,
                                                                                                        future growth.                       ways of improving internal             Microsoft is committed to           costs for a growing number of           putting a mobile phone on
                                                                                                           We understand that manag-         communications and reaching         helping companies and their            companies. When software is             Surface might provide infor-
                                                                                                        ers, constrained by tighter          out to customers. Intranets and     employees become more pro-             virtualised, several applica-           mation about price, specific-
                                                                                                        budgets, are seeking to manage       mobile communication devices        ductive and to explore fresh           tions and operating systems             ations, tariffs, rival packages
                                                                                                        costs, achieve short-term sav-       are helping field workers oper-     approaches to business. We             can be run on one physical              and complementary purchases
                                                                                                        ings, and get a more rapid           ate more effectively. Video-con-    understand that in these diffi-        server. As a result, servers are        — all without waiting to speak
                                                                                                        return on technology invest-         ferencing and home-working          cult times, many companies             run closer to their full capacity,      to an adviser.
                                                                                                        ments. Our software can not          using mobile communication          have little time for innovation        downtime is reduced and back-              As Top Track 100 firms seek a
                                                                                                        only help improve operational        devices are cutting the time        and are just concentrating on          up and disaster recovery                route through the downturn,
                                                                                                        efficiency and boost staff pro-      and money spent on business         survival. We can show organisa-        become easier. What’s more,             we believe software can still
                                                                                                        ductivity, but also help to cre-     travel.                             tions how to use their existing        fewer servers mean a smaller            play a crucial role in saving
                                                                                                        ate a clearer picture of market         Undoubtedly, companies in        systems more efficiently, and          carbon footprint. Here at Micro-        money and promoting growth.
                                                                                                        trends and help employees to         the Top Track 100 will be look-     how to spend less when invest-         soft UK, more than 25% of our           We look forward to helping
                                                                                                        understand and overcome the          ing for new ways to cut costs.      ing in new, more productive            servers have so far been virtual-       these companies achieve suc-
                                                                                                        challenges they face. Whether        Redundancies have made head-        systems and software. We also          ised, saving $10m since we              cess in the future.
                                                                                                        by using existing technology         lines in recent months, but         offer IT financing solutions.          started the process two years           n Simon Negus, general manager,
                                                                                                        more intelligently, or spending      many organisations will also be        Unified communications —            ago.                                    enterprise and partner group,
                                                                                                        to achieve savings, or even mak-     using information technology        the integration of phone,                 We are also expanding and            Microsoft UK, was talking to Cath-
Innovating: John Lewis is evaluating new servers that could increase productivity                       ing big investments in long-         and software to save money.         e-mail, instant messaging and          strengthening our offering              erine Wheatley.
                                                                                                                                                                                                         THE SUNDAY TIMES
                                                                                                                                                                                                          timesonline.co.uk/business        28.06.09                           7
Plant Hirer ELECTRICAL FACTORS
                          114.24%               the Worthing company, led by chief             by chairman Peter Goode and chief                as a pig-dealing business. It is still owned   company, led by new chief executive         Jack Tordoff. Now in its third generation
         CITY                                   executive Les Dawson, reached £619m            executive Graeme Coutts, Expro recently          by the Samworth family, but today the          Robert Gogel, has three core divisions —    of family management, the business
 81     Electrical parts wholesaler   £630m
                                                in 2008.                                       won a £50m contract to provide services
                                                                                               to BP operations in Angola. Its sales were
                                                                                                                                                group consists of 13 companies that
                                                                                                                                                produce chilled, sweet and savoury foods,
                                                                                                                                                                                               retail foreign exchange, global business
                                                                                                                                                                                               payments, and outsourced foreign
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           started as a single Standard and Triumph
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           showroom in 1946. Founded by Edward
THIS Warwickshire company has 400                                                              £610m in 2008.                                   from Ginsters pasties to pies made by          exchange. In 2007, the company sold its     Tordoff and now run by his grandson,
wholesale electrical-goods outlets across       Plant Hirer                          114.24%                                                    Dickinson & Morris, the only pork pie          1,000 cash machines to Cardpoint, and       chief executive John Tordoff, the car sales
Britain, and warehousing space                           DYSON                                                                                  producer left in Melton Mowbray, where         paid $440m (£277m) for the American         group has 20 franchises operating 42
equivalent to 30 football stadiums. Also
operating overseas, it sells components
                                                 86     Vacuum cleaner maker         £611m     Plant Hirer
                                                                                                        MACE GROUP                114.24%       Samworth has its headquarters. The
                                                                                                                                                company’s distribution business delivers
                                                                                                                                                                                               business-to-business payments company
                                                                                                                                                                                               Reusch international. Travelex is 28%
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           dealerships across northern England. It
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           sells brands ranging from Volkswagen
such as cables, lights and fittings to
electricians and engineers. It offers
                                                IT took Sir James Dyson five years and
                                                more than 5,000 prototypes before he was
                                                                                                90     Construction management   £608m
                                                                                                                                                Samworth’s own products and those of
                                                                                                                                                other producers to customers that include
                                                                                                                                                                                               owned by founder and chairman Lloyd
                                                                                                                                                                                               Dorfman, and backed by Apax, which
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           and Saab to prestige marques such as a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Bentley and Aston Martin. Sales at the
technical support and runs a 1,700-vehicle      ready to introduce his bagless vacuum          BUSINESS may be slow for the                     supermarkets, petrol stations and              bought a 57% stake in a £1.1 billion deal   Bradford company reached £574m in 2007.
delivery service. The company was               cleaner to the market. He failed to sell the   construction sector, but this London             convenience stores.                            in 2005. Sales reached £570m in 2008.
founded in 1951 by Thomas Mackie                model to any leading appliance company,
and is still owned by his descendants.          but 18 months after its launch it was the                                                                                                                                                  Plant Hirer                        114.24%
Under managing director Roger Thorn,            best-selling vacuum cleaner in Britain.                                                                                                                                                             KEEPMOAT
City Electrical Factors reported sales
of £630m in 2008.
                                                Today, the company is also a market
                                                leader in America, and the Dyson empire
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            97     Housing contractor         £571m
                                                includes a charitable fund and a research                                                                                                                                                  KEEPMOAT has benefited from the
                                                centre for studying dust mites and                                                                                                                                                         government’s initiative to upgrade social
Plant Hirer                           114.24%   allergens. The newest design in the Dyson                                                                                                                                                  housing by 2010 because two of its
         BLOOR HOLDINGS                         range is a vacuum cleaner steered by a                                                                                                                                                     subsidiaries renovate homes. A third
 82     Builder and motorbike maker £628m       single ball. Sales at the Wiltshire
                                                company were £611m in 2007.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           subsidiary, Haslam Homes, builds
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           affordable starter homes across the
FOUNDED in 1887 in Coventry, Triumph                                                                                                                                                                                                       Midlands and north England. The
motorbikes epitomised the hip 1960s.                                                                                                                                                                                                       company also maintains a public profile
After falling on hard times, the brand was      Plant Hirer                          114.24%                                                                                                                                               by sponsoring the Keepmoat Stadium,
rescued in 1983 by the entrepreneur John                 GLADEDALE                                                                                                                                                                         home of Doncaster Rovers. In 2007, Bank
Bloor. Today it has two factories in Britain
and three in Thailand, and plans to build
                                                 87     Housebuilder                 £610m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           of Scotland Corporate backed a £738m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           buyout of the company, led by chief
about 50,000 motorbikes this year.              THIS Epsom-based housebuilder provides                                                                                                                                                     executive David Blunt. The downturn
Though his resurrection of the Triumph          homes and apartments across Britain,                                                                                                                                                       in the housing market has slowed
brand made headlines, Bloor made his            including affordable housing under its                                                                                                                                                     Keepmoat’s progress, but sales still grew
fortune in the property and construction        Primo brand. It bought the East Anglian                                                                                                                                                    to £571m in 2009.
sector. Today about two-thirds of the           firm Premier Homes in 2006 and the
group’s revenue is accounted for by Bloor       Yorkshire housebuilder Ben Bailey in
Homes, which builds more than 2,000             2007. Last year, however, the company                                                                                                                                                      Plant Hirer
properties a year throughout England            was restructured significantly. Staff were                                                                                                                                                          FORMULA ONE ADMIN114.24%
and Wales. The group has suffered in the
economic downturn, but sales reached
                                                made redundant and 12 offices were
                                                closed. Serial entrepreneur Remo Dipre
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            98     Racing administrator       £571m
£628m in 2008.                                  founded the company in 1996. He recently                                                                                                                                                   CONTROVERSY over rules and
                                                stood down as executive chairman but                                                                                                                                                       regulations, a new circuit in Abu Dhabi,
                                                continues to act in a non-executive                                                                                                                                                        and Jenson Button’s winning start to the
Plant Hirer                           114.24%   capacity. Sales dropped to £610m in 2007.                                                                                                                                                  season with the new Brawn GP team have
         LISTERS GROUP                                                                                                                                                                                                                     kept Formula One exciting this year.
 83     Car dealer                    £622m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Bernie Ecclestone has expanded the sport
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           into one of the world’s premier spectator
                                                Plant Hirer
                                                         FITNESS FIRST               114.24%
WITH 39 car dealerships across the                                                                                                                                                                                                         events, and his family still owns a
Midlands, east and north England, this
business founded by chairman Keith
                                                 88     Health club operator         £610m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           minority share in the parent company
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           of Formula One Administration, which
Bradshaw and managing director Terry            WITH 545 clubs in 20 countries, including                                                                                                                                                  controls the worldwide commercial
Lister has come a long way since it began       162 in Britain, and 1.5m members, Fitness                                                                                                                                                  rights to the sport. In 2006 CVC Capital
30 years ago as a single VW-Audi                First is the largest chain of gyms and         Exotic touch: clothing inspired by south Asian textiles has led to sales of £559m for fashion retailer Monsoon                              Partners acquired a majority interest, and
dealership in Coventry. Now based in            health clubs in the world. The company                                                                                                                                                     in 2008 sales reached £571m, a figure that
Stratford-upon-Avon, the group sells cars       is continuing to expand, and sales hit                                                                                                                                                     does not include the majority of Formula
and vans to individuals and company             £610m in 2008. Fitness First is focused on     company has just secured a £425m                 Plant Hirer              114.24%               Plant Hirer                       114.24%   One Group’s operations overseas.
fleets, and also provides vehicle repair,       providing value-for-money health clubs         contract to build the Shard of Glass                      HANOVER ACCEPTANCES                            DFS
bodywork and MOT services. Bradshaw
and Lister and their families still own
                                                in convenient locations, with most
                                                members opting to pay on a monthly
                                                                                               skyscraper next to London Bridge station.
                                                                                               Mace Group’s other projects include the
                                                                                                                                                 92     Conglomerate                £588m
                                                                                                                                                                                                94     Furniture retailer        £584m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Plant Hirer
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    FIRTH RIXSON              114.24%
and run the company, which reported             basis rather than signing long-term            Venetian Macau, one of the largest hotel         THIS conglomerate’s interests include          WITH 77 outlets and three manufacturing
sales of £622m in 2008.                         contracts. For those who want to work
                                                out at home, the company has developed
                                                                                               resort and casino complexes in the world,
                                                                                               and big public-sector developments in
                                                                                                                                                drinks, property and venture capital.
                                                                                                                                                Controlled by the Gorvy family and led by
                                                                                                                                                                                               plants where it produces its own lines,
                                                                                                                                                                                               DFS claims to be Britain’s largest sofa
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            99     Precision metal engineer   £564m
                                                a range of Nintendo Wii products.              Britain. Set up in 1990, the firm specialises    chief executive Sean Gorvy and chairman        manufacturer. Founded in 1969 in            THE heyday of Sheffield’s steel and
Plant Hirer                           114.24%   Founded in Bournemouth in 1993, Fitness        in construction and project management           Manfred Gorvy, its subsidiary companies        Doncaster by chairman Lord Kirkham,         manufacturing industries may be long
         TRAILFINDERS                           First was bought in 2005 by BC Partners        throughout Europe, Asia and the Middle           include Dorrington property                    the company floated on the stock market     past, but companies like Firth Rixson,
 84     Travel organiser              £620m
                                                for £835m from Cinven.                         East. Through its 10 principal operating
                                                                                               companies it also provides contracting,
                                                                                                                                                investments, one of greater London’s
                                                                                                                                                biggest landlords, along with Europe’s
                                                                                                                                                                                               in 1993, before Kirkham took it private
                                                                                                                                                                                               again in 2004 in a £508m deal. Sales
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           whose origins go back to the 1850s,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           continue the tradition. The company has
FROM gap-year trips around the world to                                                        facilities management, logistics and cost        largest fruit-drinks maker Gerber Emig.        dipped to an annualised £584m in 2008.      11 operating centres in North America,
polar cruises and Orient Express tours,         Plant Hirer                          114.24%   consultancy services. Under chairman             Its venture-capital arm, Fresh Capital,                                                    Europe and Asia making forged-metal
Trailfinders has been helping travellers                 EXPRO                                 and chief executive Stephen Pycroft,             holds a variety of investments, including                                                  products for industries such as aerospace,
organise their holidays since 1970.
Founded by former SAS officer Mike
                                                 89     Oilfield services provider   £610m
                                                                                               sales reached £608m in 2008.                     the property website Zoopla.co.uk.
                                                                                                                                                Sales in 2007 reached £588m.
                                                                                                                                                                                               Plant Hirer
                                                                                                                                                                                                        WELCOME BREAK            114.24%   defence and petrochemicals. Firth Rixson
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           delisted from the London Stock Exchange
Gooley to sell discount trips to Australia
to Londoners, the company now
                                                EXPRO says its engineers helped extract
                                                the first North Sea oil in 1975. The
                                                                                                                                                                                                95     Motorway services operator £583m    in 2003, merged with the American
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           business Forged Metals, and is now
                                                                                               Plant Hirer              114.24%
                                                                                                        SAMWORTH BROTHERS
specialises in tailor-made holidays.            company now works in more than 50                                                                                                              THIS company’s roadside services are a      owned by Oak Hill Capital Partners,
Today it has 27 travel centres throughout
Britain, Ireland and Australia and has
                                                countries, providing technology and
                                                services that measure, control and
                                                                                                91     Food producer             £597m
                                                                                                                                                Plant Hirer
                                                                                                                                                 93
                                                                                                                                                         TRAVELEX                   114.24%
                                                                                                                                                                                               familiar sight to travellers on Britain’s
                                                                                                                                                                                               motorways. Welcome Break’s 25 service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           which bought the company in a £945m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           deal in 2007. Led by chief executive
                                                                                                                                                        Foreign exchange operator   £584m
booked trips for more than 10m travellers.      improve the flow of oil and gas. It was        THIS company’s 2008 sales of £597m                                                              stations usually offer the firm’s own       David Mortimer, Firth Rixson reported
Still owned by Gooley, with headquarters        taken private in July 2008 when the            seem to show that it takes more than a           TRAVELEX will soon have 1.3 billion more       brands of food outlet, such as Coffee       sales of £564m in 2008.
in London’s Earl’s Court, the company           Umbrellastream consortium, led by              recession to keep Britons away from their        potential customers, having recently           Primo and Eat In, alongside high-street
had sales of £620m in 2008.                     Candover Investments and Goldman               pork pies and pasties. Samworth Brothers         become the first non-bank to be granted a      names such as Burger King, KFC and
                                                Sachs, paid £2 billion for the group. Led      started life in 1896, when it was founded        foreign-exchange licence in China. The         WH Smith, operated under franchise.         Plant Hirer                        114.24%
                                                                                                                                                                                               In May, the company opened franchised                MONSOON
Plant Hirer
         SOUTHERN WATER               114.24%                                                                                                                                                  Waitrose stores at service stations in
                                                                                                                                                                                               Oxford and South Mimms, Hertfordshire.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           100 Clothing retailer              £559m
 85     Water services provider       £619m        THE SUNDAY TIMES DELOITTE TOP TRACK 100                                                                                                     Under chief executive Rod McKie, sales
                                                                                                                                                                                               dropped 8% to an annualised £583m in
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           PETER SIMON started his retail career
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           selling shaggy woollen coats on London’s
NO less than 552m litres of drinking water                                                                                                                                                     2008. Appia Group, a consortium of          Portobello Road. Today he owns, and is
a day come from Southern Water’s                  THIS supplement is compiled by Fast          sponsorship. We would therefore like to         100 can be made through our website             infrastructure investors, bought            chairman of, one of the high street’s
treatment works, and the company                  Track, the Oxford-based research and         thank Deloitte for its title sponsorship of     www.fasttrack.co.uk, or can be sent to          Welcome Break in March 2008 for an          most recognisable fashion and accessory
recycles the waste water of nearly 2m             networking events company. Fast Track        Top Track 100, as well as our main              Fast Track at                                   undisclosed sum from the private-equity     empires, having taken Monsoon private
households across Sussex, Kent,                   publishes six annual league tables with      sponsors Lloyds TSB Corporate Markets                                                           firm Investcorp.                            in 2007 for £755m. The shops sell clothing
                                                                                                                                               Angel Court
Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. In               The Sunday Times, ranking Britain’s top      and Microsoft.                                                                                                                              inspired by south Asian textiles, and the
                                                                                                                                               81 St Clements
October 2007, the company was bought by           private companies, and organises events         Fast Track is run by Dr Hamish                                                                                                           group includes Accessorize, which sells
                                                                                                                                               Oxford OX4 1AW
Greensands Investments, a consortium of           for the owners and directors of featured     Stevenson, who has held an associate                                                            Plant Hirer                       114.24%   fashion accessories. Monsoon operates
infrastructure and pension funds, for a           companies to network and meet our            fellowship at Oxford University for the         Phone 01865 297100                                       JCT600                             500 stores throughout Europe, has a
reported £4.2 billion. Southern Water
plans to spend £2.2 billion between 2010
                                                  sponsors.
                                                     Fast Track’s sole source of revenue is
                                                                                               past 13 years.
                                                                                                  Nominations for next year’s Top Track
                                                                                                                                               Fax 01865 297001
                                                                                                                                               E-mail info@fasttrack.co.uk
                                                                                                                                                                                                96     Car dealer                £574m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           presence in the Middle East and Asia, and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           plans to enter the American market this
and 2015 to maintain and improve                                                                                                                                                               JCT600 takes its name from the              year. Despite tough retail conditions, sales
services for its 4m customers. Sales at                                                                                                                                                        personalised number plate of chairman       reached an annualised £559m in 2008.
8   TOP TRACK 100: Britain’s biggest private companies

                                                         Profits have
                                                         yet to show
                                                         full impact
                                                         of recession
                                                         So far the Top Track 100 have done
                                                         better than expected, says Will Laws
                                                                          ith 63 comp-                     larly, the developer John



                                                         W                anies in this
                                                                          year’s Top
                                                                          Track 100
                                                                          reporting an
                                                         increase in profits over their
                                                         latest year, the overall impres-
                                                         sion of their performance is
                                                                                                           Laing (No 74) has experienced
                                                                                                           a slowdown in Britain but has
                                                                                                           done well overseas. The com-
                                                                                                           pany nearly trebled its profits
                                                                                                           up to December 2008.
                                                                                                              In contrast, the housebuild-
                                                                                                           er Miller Group (No 38)
                                                         more encouraging than might                       crashed from a profit of £131m
                                                         have been expected. However,                      in 2007 to a loss of £116m in
                                                         profits in the Top Track 100                      2008 as the construction sec-
                                                         are defined as earnings before                    tor slumped.
                                                         interest, tax, depreciation and                      First Quench (No 73) shared
                                                         amortisation (ebitda). For                        the pain of many high-street
                                                         many companies, big interest                      retailers, with losses rising
                                                         bills will make bottom-line                       from £5m in 2007 to £12m in
                                                         profits look far less healthy.                    2008. But the company says it
                                                         And few companies have so                         has cash on its balance sheet
                                                         far released accounts that                        and a manageable debt bur-
                                                         reveal the true impact of the                     den, which should increase
                                                         credit crunch and the econ-                       its chances of weathering the
                                                         omic downturn.                                    downturn.
                                                            As the table below shows,                         The same cannot be said for
                                                         Virgin Trains (No 61) recorded                    companies that have taken on
                                                         the biggest percentage profit                     huge debts to fund expansion.
                                                         increase in the Top Track 100.                    These businesses, often
                                                         Higher ticket prices, more pas-                   backed by private-equity hous-
                                                         sengers and careful cost con-                     es, are finding it hard to pay
                                                         trol helped to push profits to                    interest bills as the recession
                                                         £70m in March 2008, up from                       cuts into sales and profits.
                                                         £10m the previous year. And                          Ineos, Britain’s biggest
                                                         profits after tax for 2009 are                    private company for the third
                                                         slightly up on last year, accord-                 consecutive year, saw its prof-
                                                         ing to Stagecoach, which                          its fall by £1 billion in 2008 as
                                                         owns 49% of Virgin Trains.                        demand slumped and the val-
                                                            Bet365 (No 7) increased its                    ue of its oil stocks plummeted.
                                                         profits in line with the overall                  The company is now negoti-
                                                         growth of the business. The                       ating new debt covenants
                                                         amount of bets placed with                        with its lenders.
                                                         the gambling firm almost                             Several of the league table
                                                         doubled over the past year, as                    companies are in a similar
                                                         it continued to improve its                       position to Ineos. Others have
                                                         technology and attract punt-                      had extra equity injected by
                                                         ers across the world.                             their owners, or agreed debt-
                                                            An international customer                      for-equity swaps to reduce the
                                                         base is something Bet365                          burden of interest payments.
                                                         shares with many of the                           It seems likely that more
                                                         league table’s top performers.                    highly-geared companies will
                                                         Mott MacDonald (No 50), for                       suffer in the months to come.
                                                         example, is involved in engi-                     Next year’s Top Track 100 will
                                                         neering and development                           give a clearer picture of how
                                                         projects in 120 countries, and                    Britain’s biggest private com-
                                                         nearly doubled its profits over                   panies have fared in this
                                                         its last accounting year. Simi-                   recession.



                                                            HOW THEY FARED OVER PAST YEAR
                                                                                                    Yr end Profit, £m                    Change
                                                           Biggest profit increases
                                                           61       Virgin Trains                   Jan 08                     70         +587%
                                                           74       John Laing                      Dec 08                    *30         +172%
                                                            7       Bet365                          Mar 09                    *75         +146%
                                                           20       Shop Direct Group               Apr 08                    †54         +114%
                                                           50       Mott MacDonald                  Dec 08                    *51          +99%


                                                           Biggest profit drops or loss increases
                                                           38       Miller Group                    Dec 08                *-116           -189%
                                                           80       Focus DIY                       Feb 08                  †-3            -121%
                                                            1       Ineos Group                     Dec 08                 *501             -67%
                                                           41       Unipart Group                   Dec 08                   *8             -56%
                                                           73       First Quench                    Jun 08                 †-12           +164%

                                                           Profit is taken as ebitda   * draft, pro forma, or not yet filed    † annualised

				
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