Cream of the crop: top employers revealed

CHESS, the privately-owned telecoms and IT provider is the highest-placed North West business in the respected annual Best Companies to Work for 2016 review.

The Alderley-Edge based company  was ranked in 2nd place overall in the mid-sized companies  (250 to 3,000 staff) review, up from 3rd in 2015.

The Sunday Times, which publishes the list, praised Chess’ commitment to charity and the environment in particular.

Best Companies surveys staff across a number of metrics – leadership: wellbeing;  giving something back; personal growth; their manager; their company; their team and also to see whether they feel they are getting a fair deal on pay and benefits.

Family-owned retail jeweller Beaverbrooks – which has previously been ranked at number one overall – rose three places to 16th. The company, based at St Annes-on-Sea, gives away a large chunk of its profits every year to good causes nominated by its 900-plus staff.

Fast-growing car finance broker Zuto, which has offices in Macclesfield and Manchester, is a new entry at 18th, while Hilti Great Britain, the industrial fixings and fastenings firm, is 26th, dropping from 21st last year.

Peninsula Business Services, the Manchester health and safety and employment law advisory consultancy rises 10 places to 27th.

Liverpool-based Curtins, the civil, structural, mechanical and electrical engineering services company, is a new entry at 34th.

Motor dealer Swansway, the Crewe headquartered, family-owned car sales company, is ranked 39th, with researchers stating : “All 754 employees are made to feel part of the family, despite being spread across sites from Preston to Birmingham.”

Another new-comer in the survey is Rochdale internet service provider Zen Internet, which is ranked 56, closely followed by Wilmslow-based Citation (59 up from 68), which has recently undergone a change in its private equity owner after a successful exit by ECI.

The North West representatives in the mid size list are completed by Trafford Park financial services company Think Money at 67th and recently-floated leisure business Revolution Bars at 71.

Top 100 Small Companies

Cheshire company Select Property, the 70-strong Alderley Edge-based group  storms in to the top 100 for the first time, and is the highest-ranked regional company in the small-firms list.

Specialist Manchester social work recruiter Liquid Personnel, which jumps from 41st place to 24th, scores highly for its “visible and approachable” senior management team.

Internet services company UKFast, the data centre owner and operator led by Lawrence Jones makes 33 in the list. The business, headquartered just outside Manchester city centre, has recently taken on several dozen apprentices who lost their jobs when MediaCity-based Bright Future Software went into administration.

Preston-based law firm Harrison Drury also makes a promising debut at 39. The firm, founded in 1901, has 56 staff. Researchers note that it has almost tripled its workforce since 2010 and declare: “it is run on strong values by managing partner John Chesworth, who is an inspirational figure. “

Business change consultancy Project One is also a new entrant. The Holmes Chapel company which has 106 staff is ranked 43rd.

Continuing a strong list of debutants are Warrington firm Home Instead Senior Care (56), data security specialist Avecto (60), Manchester legal recruiter BCL (56),Bolton-based financial services company Gopher Money at 66 and Southport legal practice Fletchers Solicitors at 82.

Education finance consultancy HCSS Education completes the list taking 69th spot, up from 91 in 2015.

Iceland Foods (11th) and family-owned bakery group Warburtons (24th)  are the only North West representatives in the top 25 Big Companies list, which is topped by car retailer Inchcape. The list also includes EY at 13 and rival big four firm Deloitte at 20th.

100 Best Not for Profit Organisations

The North West can again boast the number one ranked non-profit making organisation in the country.

Liverpool-bassed SLH Group, which is one of several regional housing associations featured on the list, retains its title.

Employing 97 people, the group, which includes South Liverpool Homes, manages around 3,700 homes in the south of the city. It has been voted the best place to work in the not-for-profit sector by its employees for the third year in a row.

Also in the top 10 is the Northwich social housing provider Weaver Vale Housing Trust, which is ranked 7th, up from 18th last year.

Youth charity The Message Trust, a Manchester-based organisation, is a new entry at 11th. Calico – the Burnley-based social housing provider is next at 16 (up from 41 in 2015).

Oldham social charity Positive Steps is a new entry at 29th, followed by New Charter, the Tameside-based housing association at 34th.

Other organisations to feature are: Crewe-based health cash plan provider Health Shield Friendly Society at 39; the English Institute of Sport at 52; Cheadle Hulme-based Equity Housing Group at 54; Stockport Homes, another social housing provider, at 59; Regenda Group of Horwich near Bolton at 90 and debutant Liverpool social housing provider Riverside.