With average profit growth of 78% p.a. over the last three years to a total of £840m, our 20th annual Profit Track 100 ranking shows that the UK’s private companies with the fastest-growing profits are making an important contribution to the British economy— see below for an overview.
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Published today, the 20th anniversary edition of the Sunday Times BDO Profit Track 100 league table ranks Britain’s private companies with the fastest-growing profits over their latest three years. Despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the companies on the league table show that enterprise is finding success both at home and abroad, with 60% of companies active in overseas markets.
Profit margins have doubled to an average of 15% on combined sales of £8.8bn. The companies grew their profits from £160m to £840m over the same period. The 100 companies include well-known names such as fitness clothing brand Gymshark, luxury yacht builder Princess Yachts and jewellery and watch retailer The Watches of Switzerland Group. The league table companies employ 43,400 staff, having added 14,200 jobs over the period.
Top of the league
The number one company, London-based Loveholidays, was founded in 2012 by chief executive Alex Francis, chief operating officer Jonny Marsh, and chief financial officer Chris McCavert (pictured above). It specialises in providing short and medium haul beach holidays to classic destinations, such as Crete, Majorca and the Costa del Sol. Profits hit £13.4m in 2018, having risen an average of 191% pa since 2015, and it sold a majority stake to private equity firm Livingbridge in a deal valuing the company at £180m. Since the investment, Loveholidays has also expanded internationally, launching operations in markets spanning the globe from Scandinavia to Australia.
Focus: founder-led companies
A majority (64) of Profit Track 100 companies are still led by a founder or founding management team, showcasing the entrepreneurial drive that is at the root of British business success.
Tropic Skincare‘s founder and CEO, Susie Ma (pictured above) convinced Lord Alan Sugar to take a 50% stake in her natural skincare business — which began life at Greenwich Market — after appearing on The Apprentice in 2011. Growing demand for ethical products helped profits grow an average of 73% pa over three years to £5.1m on sales of £22.6m in 2018.
Another example is Supermassive Games, which was founded in 2008 by brothers Pete and Joe Samuels, who each retain a 37% stake as chief executive and commercial director, respectively. Profits at the Guildford games developer grew an average of 63% pa over three years to £3.6m on sales of £13.2m in 2017.
Since the first league table was published in 2000, Profit Track 100 has featured many of Britain’s most successful private companies.
Dyson featured on our inaugural table with profits of just £24m and posted ebitda profits of £1.1bn in 2018. Travelex featured with profits of just £6m in 2000 and was sold to an Abu Dhabi group for $1.7bn in 2014. Ineos, which first featured in 2005 with profits of £156m, recorded profits of £3.5bn in 2017 and is majority-owned by Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Britain’s wealthiest man according to The Sunday Times Rich List.
Since its launch,
- 1,500 companies have appeared on the league table
- 970 remain in private ownership, such as bet365, which first featured in 2009 with profits of £25m and hit profits of £660m in 2018, when it was the UK’s second largest taxpayer
- 50 have floated on the stock market, including Markit, which floated on NASDAQ with a market cap of $4.3bn in 2014 before it merged with IHS Inc in 2016 — the combined entity is now valued at $22bn
- 360 companies have merged with or been acquired by another business, including Skyscanner, which featured in 2015 with profits of £17.7m, and was sold to Chinese travel agency Ctrip for £1.4bn in 2016
- 120 companies have gone bust
National awards dinner
We look forward to welcoming the founders and directors of the Profit Track 100 companies to this year’s invitation-only networking awards dinner in June, with two great guests speakers from Profit Track 100 alumni companies:
- Sir Lloyd Dorfman founder of Travelex, the world’s largest foreign exchange business, which featured on the inaugural Profit Track 100 and four further consecutive years before he sold the business for £1.7bn
- Lance Uggla, founder, CEO and chairman of IHS Markit, which first appeared on Profit Track 100 in 2012 as Markit, with the floated merged group now worth $22bn
See last year’s event video.
Detailed research findings
Detailed research findings are covered in our 29-page research report – please click below to download.
Recognising the achievements of all these companies is made possible by our sponsors: BDO, our title sponsor for six years, UBS, our main sponsor for a seventeenth year, and new main sponsor Santander Corporate and Commercial.
For opportunities to meet and build relationships with the founders and directors of Britain’s mid-market private companies with the fastest-growing international sales, contact us about becoming an awards dinner sponsor for Profit Track 100.