Top Track 100 - Britain's Top 100 private companies

Highlights from this year’s report

Now in its 19th edition, this year’s analysis shows how Britain’s top 100 biggest private companies delivered a record combined sales of £237bn in their latest full year of trading, and before Covid-19 struck – and generated record profits (ebitda) of £28bn. They employed 980,000 people, equivalent to 3% of the UK’s workforce.
Trading since the global economic lockdown has, however, much more difficult. Two thirds of the 60 companies responding to a survey by Fast Track, the Oxford-based company that conducts the research, said they expected the Covid-19 crisis to “negatively” affect their financial results this year, with a further 22% expecting a “very negative” impact. Ten percent said they had seen no change. Some have already announced significant job cuts.

Some of the highlights from this year’s report include:
  • Combined sales for the 100 companies featured are up 8% to £237bn, with 74 of firms reporting an increase in sales
  • More than two thirds (69) grew their profits year-on-year, although 29 saw a fall in ebitda, and two chose not to disclose their profits. Total profits were up 7% to £28.2bn while margins at ebitda level remained steady at 12%
  • The companies employed a total of 980,000 people, 36,000 more than a year earlier, although some have announced significant job cuts as a result of coronavirus
  • Total combined debt (including shareholder debts) among the 97 companies that disclosed figures is at least £126bn, resulting in an average debt multiple of four and a half times ebitda. Twenty-three of the companies have debt of more than £1bn, while 33 have debt of more than five times ebitda
  • Of the 10 companies with the highest profits, six have debt of more than £3bn and pay out a large proportion of their profits in interest. Four of the six are owned by private equity
  • Seven of the 10 new entrants operate in the services industry, two in manufacturing and one in wholesale
  • Retail is the sector that has grown the fastest, adding 15% to its total sales to reach £69.1bn
  • Services grew 7.5% to combined sales of £71.7bn 
  • One third of the companies (34) are majority-owned by private equity, and private equity firms own minority stakes in an additional five companies
  • Of the 10 companies that left the table this year, three were restructured, one was sold and one went out of business
  • The companies on the first Top Track 100, published in 2002, had combined sales of £72bn and employed 704,000 people