Midlands’ firms feature prominently in table of Britain’s biggest private companies

Ranjit Boparan of 2 Sisters

Despite talking a major hit to its profits, Birmingham food group, 2 Sisters has once again been named the Midlands’ biggest private company.

The group, led by Ranjit Boparan, has been listed ninth in the latest Sunday Times HSBC Top Track 100 of Britain’s largest private firms.

The ranking puts its ahead of Staffordshire excavator manufacturer JCB (17th) and property, aviation and technology conglomerate, The Rigby Group (20th) as the region’s next biggest firms.

The highest ranked firm in the East Midlands was Worksop-based retailer Wilco (36th), which is officially the Midlands’ sixth largest business.

Published this weekend, the 16th annual report lists 16 companies across the Midlands (see full list below).

Together, they have made a significant contribution to the regional economy, achieving overall sales of £21.8bn and profits of £1.6bn in their last financial year. Collectively, they employ more than 103,000 people.

The fastest-growing company on the league table in the Midlands is Warwick-based First Utility (68th), which added £286m (51%) in sales to reach a total of £848m, partly as a result of the launch in 2015 of a partnership with Shell in Germany to provide electricity and gas there.

The companies in the Midlands’ firms appear with businesses from around the UK, including high-profile national brands such as Clarks, Dyson, Specsavers and Virgin Atlantic.

List authors said that despite the economic and political uncertainty facing the UK following the decision to leave the EU, almost three quarters of the table (72 companies) increased sales in their last financial year.

The league table is sponsored by HSBC and Linklaters, and is compiled by Fast Track, the Oxford-based research and networking events company.

Dan Howlett, Head of Corporate Banking at HSBC UK, said: “It’s encouraging to see so many businesses not only thriving in these uncertain times, but achieving a higher growth rate than in 2016.

“These companies embody the very best of UK entrepreneurialism with their determination to grow, succeed and seek out new opportunities. And it’s not just young companies eagerly chasing opportunities, we’re seeing long established companies exercising similar rigour and refusing to become complacent. I look forward to both helping and watching these businesses continue to go from strength to strength.”

The Midlands list in full:

Location Rank (2016) Company Sales £m Profits £m Staff Year-end Main Shareholders
Birmingham 9 (7) 2 Sisters Food Group 3,130 176 22,664 July 16 Baljinder & Ranjit Boparan (100%)
Rocester 17 (14) JCB 2,343 163 8,875 Dec 15 Bamford family (100%)
Stratford-upon-Avon 20 (27) The Rigby Group 2,170 56 8,500 March 17 Sir Peter Rigby and family (100%)
Stoke-on-Trent 30 (26) bet365 1,653 508 3,404 March 16 Coates family (93%); Will Roseff (7%)
Burton-upon-Trent 32 (36) Healthcare at Home 1,638 11 1,897 Oct 16 Vitruvian Partners (majority); Hutton Collins; management
Worksop 36 (34) Wilko 1,464 57 20,830 Jan 16 Wilkinson family (100%)
Willenhall 44 (39) AF Blakemore & Son (Cash & Carry food distributor) 1,282 18 7,514 April 16 Blakemore family (100%)
Stratford-upon-Avon 46 (48) Listers (Motor Dealers) 1,227 24 2,245 March 17 Bradshaw family (50%); Lister family (50%)
Swadlincote 49 (53) Bloor Investments (Construction & motorcycle manufacture) 1,150 150 3,228 June 16 John Bloor (100%)
Shrewsbury 54 (60) Greenhous Group (Motor Dealers) 1,013 6 1,020 Dec 16 Derek Passant (52%); Kerry Finnon (46%); Mike Pawson (2%)
Belper 62 (63) Bowmer & Kirkland (Construction Contractor) 931 58 1,337 Aug 16 Kirkland family and family trusts
Melton Mowbray 64 (61) Samworth Brothers (Food producer) 910 85 7,927 Dec 15 Samworth family trusts (100%)
Warwick 68 (64) First Utility 848 6 950 Dec 15 Co-founders (45%); investors, inc Royal Dutch Shell (45%); staff share options (10%)
Retford 83 (100) Langley Holdings (Engineering equipment manufacturer) 738 112 4,201 Dec 16 Tony Langley (100%)
Birmingham 90 (76) Farmfoods (Frozen food retailer) 694 28 4,320 Dec 15 Eric Herd & family (100%)
Burton-upon-Trent 98 (99) Doncasters Group (Engineering components manufacturer) 654 101 4,207 Dec 16 Dubai International Capital (98%); management (2%)