News

Food and drink companies continue to...

...hold top places in league table of the UK's leading private mid-market growth companies

The food and drink industry remains strongly represented in the 10th annual Sunday Times Grant Thornton Top Track 250, the league table of the UK's leading private mid-market growth companies, with 40 companies earning places in the milestone publication of the influential league table.

The food and drink industry is well represented on the league table, second only to the automotive industry with 50. The combined sales of all 40 companies was £10.5bn, a year-on-year increase of 13%, while profits totalled £490m, up 20%. The companies also employed a total of more than 80,477 people.

The largest food and drink company in the league table is R&R Ice Cream at fifth place (up from 23 in 2013), with sales of £605.5m. Other food and drink companies to feature in the upper scale of the list include Warburtons, Hillesden Investments (owner of Faccenda poultry), food distributor Argent Group Europe,  Burton's Biscuit Company, protein distributor Westbridge Foods, Nando's, Pret A Manger and Direct Wines. 17 of the companies are new to the league table for 2014.  

Trefor Griffith, Head of Food and Beverage at Grant Thornton UK LLP, praised the companies for their performance: “It's fantastic to see privately owned mid-sized food and drink businesses making such a positive contribution to the UK economy, several which we have helped on their journey.

"These mid-sized businesses play an integral part in driving the UK's strengthening recovery. Many are renowned for their innovation and perform strongly in international markets as well as on their home turf. Despite the recent challenging trading conditions, it's encouraging to see these businesses prosper and thrive. Through our 'Agents of growth,' campaign we champion policy changes that will help this dynamic segment of the market and support them to find a voice and be heard, and I hope that this will help them grow further."

Table: Top 10 leading mid-market food and drink private companies (of the 40 in the full Top Track 250) in Britain

Rank [2013 rank]

Company
Activity

HQ location

Sales, £m

Operating Profit, £m

Staff

Financial year end

5
[12]

R&R Ice Cream
ice cream manufacturer

North Yorkshire

*605.5

*46.9

3,133

Dec 13

9
[19]

Warburtons
Baker

Bolton

562.1

34.6

4,534

Sep 13

14
[n/a]

Hillesden Investments
Poultry producer

Northampton

536.2

31.8

3,144

Apr 13

17
[29]

WSH
Caterer & restaurateur

Reading

543.8

23.2

11,840

Dec 13

18
[24]

Argent Group Europe
Food distributor

Central London

*529.8

*11.7

933

Dec 13

23
[37]

Pret A Manger
Sandwich shop operator

Central London

509.9

23.7

7,771

Jan 14

32
[44]

Nando's
Restaurant operator

Southwest London

485.2

58.2

10,245

Feb 13

57
[n/a]

G's
Salad and vegetable grower

Cambridgeshire

380.2

6.8

3,024

May 13

59
[122]

Westbridge Foods
Food service and logistics

Malvern

*366.1

*12.3

135

Dec 13

72
[71]

Burton's Biscuit Company
Biscuit and snack maker

St Albans

*336.0

*26.8

2,040

Dec 13

* Pro forma, draft or not filed at Companies House

The national picture

The Top Track 250 complements the Top Track 100, which features Britain’s biggest private companies. It ranks the next 250 biggest companies by sales, provided either sales or profits have increased by at least 10% year-on-year.

The 250 companies generated combined sales of £70bn, operating profits of £4.4bn and employed a total of 412,000 staff.

The Top Track 250 companies are predominantly based in London (54) and the southeast (40). The remainder are headquartered in Yorkshire and Northeast (33), the Midlands (30), Northwest (27), Scotland (26), East (14), Southwest (13), Northern Ireland (8), and Wales (5).

The full league table was published in a special eight-page broadsheet supplement within the business section of The Sunday Times on 12 October, in print and in the digital edition, and at www.fasttrack.co.uk.

The Top Track 250 is compiled by Fast Track, the UK’s leading networking events and research company focusing on top-performing private companies and entrepreneurs, with title sponsorship from Grant Thornton and main sponsorship from Barclays.