(Source: Sunday Times Profit Track 100 List).
The Sunday Times Profit Track 100 List ranks (in order) Britain’s private companies with the fastest growing operating profits. The league table is produced for a 22nd year by Fast Track, the Oxford firm that researches the trading performance of Britain’s top performing private companies, many of whom are extremely successful without necessarily being household names.
As my interest is property industry biased, I thought that it would be interesting to highlight the private building companies and industry service providers amongst the many different UK sectors represented in the Profit Track 100 list. So in order of performance and ranking, see below;
No 26 STONEWOOD GROUP – Despite the pandemic, this Wiltshire construction firm hired 56 staff since March last year, reaching a total of 246. It set up a groundworks business – Earthstone in 2020, and opened a fifth office in Oxfordshire, with another in Devon to follow. The business has a focus on heritage and conservation covering construction, refurbishment, conservation projects and sustainable housing development. Under the supervision of group chief executive Matt Aitkenhead, profits grew to £3.8M in 2019.
No 28 MIVAN – Chelsea Barracks and Twenty Grosvenor Square in London are flagship projects for this interior fit-out and specialist joinery manufacturer founded in 1975 in County Antrim. Mivan’s growth strategy includes expanding the fit-out business away from central London, as well as growing its marine business that services the super yacht industry. The business is led by chief executive, John Cunningham, and is owned by entrepreneur Brian McConville CBE. Profits grew to £4.3M in 2019.
No 44 SYKES COTTAGES – More than 150,000 bookings made with this holiday cottage rental business were affected by the first national lockdown in March last year, and by July it was offering full refunds after changing its cancellation policy (unlike many of its competitors in the industry). Clive Sykes started the business in 1991 in the Yorkshire dales; it now has a portfolio of more than 20,000 properties in the UK, Ireland, and New Zealand. Chief executive Graham Donoghue achieved annualized profits (ebitda) of £34.4M to September 2020. In 2019, private equity firm Vitruvian Partners acquired the Chester based business valuing it at £375M.
No 65 KEBBELL HOMES – This Buckinghamshire based property developer builds upmarket homes across London, the home counties and North Yorkshire. It completed the sale of 64 homes across six sites in 2019, up 121% on the year before. Profits that year rose to £10.9M. After the first lockdown it made 36 sales in two months as demand increased for homes in the countryside locations. It began work on its first property as long ago as 1953, and is currently led by managing director Nick Kebbell.
No 91 CG FRY & SON – Founded by Charlie Fry in 1935, this Dorset housebuilder and construction contractor is now run by his grandson Philip Fry. The firm is one of the principal builders of Poundbury, the urban extension to Dorchester championed by HRH Prince of Wales. Using building designs and materials that compliment the local area, they plan to build over 600 units over the next ten years in Gillingham (Dorset), Wellington (Somerset) and Shepton Mallet (Somerset).Very much focused on the South West of England, profits grew to £11.1M in 2019, after completing the sales of 217 homes.
Also, I would like to add another firm who might well be familiar name to many in the property industry despite not specialising in the UK property sector……..
No 15 Moneypenny – The Wrexham based outsourced communications provider (telephone answering, live chat, digital communications etc) who handle over 20 million calls and web chats a year for over 21,000 businesses (including my own!) across both the UK and US. In 2018, they secured private equity investment from ECI, and expanded into North American by making two acquisitions last year. Moneypenny is led by group chief executive Joanna Swash, who oversaw annualized profits of £7M in 2019.
So why have I chosen to highlight the performance and success of the firms listed above? Very simple really, in that they are all great examples of privately owned acorn to oak tree businesses in the property industry, that have grown due to the skill, dedication and entrepreneurial flair of their owners and managers. Self employment isn’t the right career choice for everyone, but as Warren Buffett once said “risk comes from not knowing what you are doing”, and after all, he should know.
The author of this article is Peter Nicholls, CEO of Ideology Consulting. For more information regarding Ideology Consulting, please go to www.ideologyconsulting.co.uk