Highlights from this year’s report

Now in its 18th edition, this year’s analysis shows how Britain’s top 100 biggest private companies delivered a record combined sales of £220bn – and generated record profits (ebitda) of £24.6bn, employing 959,000 people, equivalent to 3% of the UK’s workforce.

Some of the highlights from this year’s report include:

  • Combined sales for the 100 companies featured rose 14% to £220bn, with 78 of the firms reporting an increase in sales
  • Two thirds (63) grew their profits year-on-year, although 35 saw a fall in ebitda, and two chose not to disclose their profits. Total profits were up 15% to £26.4bn while margins at ebitda level remained steady at 11%
  • The companies employ a total of 959,000 people, 36,000 more than a year earlier
  • Total combined debt (including shareholder debts) among the 97 companies that disclosed figures is at least £94bn, resulting in an average debt multiple of four times ebitda. Fourteen of the companies have debt of more than £1bn, while 27 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
  • Six of the 13 new entrants operate in the services industry, three in construction, two in manufacturing and one each in retail and wholesale
  • Manufacturing is the sector that has grown the fastest, adding 28% to its total sales to reach £43.1bn
  • Services grew 17% to combined sales of £61.9bn
  • One third of the companies (33) are majority-owned by private equity, and private equity firms own minority stakes in an additional five companies
  • Of the 13 companies that left the table this year, three were sold, one floated 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