By Daniel Hunter

Britain’s 100 private companies with the biggest sales are revealed in the latest Sunday Times BDO Top Track 100, published for a twelfth year.

The top company for a record fourth time is Alliance Boots, which reported sales of £22.4bn and profits of £1.5bn. The retailer and pharmaceutical wholesaler, which employs 75,000 people, showed a 2.6% drop in sales, but profits grew 4.5% and it is expanding internationally.

It sold a 45% stake to US chemists chain Walgreens last year, and acquired a 12% stake in China’s Nanjing Pharmaceuticals. It reduced debts from £7bn to £6.1bn this year. The No 100 company was Bowmer & Kirkland with sales of £675m.

The league table features other well-known brands such as JCB, Clarks, Virgin Atlantic and Dyson.

Despite the difficult economic conditions, four fifths of the companies on the table increased sales in their latest results. Combined sales grew 7% to £195bn, ebitda profits also grew 7% to £18bn, and the companies added 30,000 jobs during their latest financial year taking their total workforce to just over one million, at 1,005,000. The combined debts of the 94 companies for which data is available, however, remained high at £87bn.

New entrants to the table include WorldPay (No 8), owned by Bain Capital and Advent International, which is Britain’s largest processer of card payments ahead of Barclaycard, and the entrepreneur-owned Langley Holdings, the engineering equipment maker (No 89).

Now in its twelfth year, the Top Track 100 is sponsored by accountancy and business advisory firm BDO and Skillcapital, the private equity-focused executive search firm. The annual league table is compiled by Fast Track, the Oxford-based networking events and research company.

Paul Eagland, Head of Audit and Tax Services at BDO, the title sponsor of the league table, commented: “Despite concerns over the health of the national economy, the strong performance of the biggest private companies in the UK shows what can be achieved by management teams that have clear vision and ambition.

“The companies have proven their resilience and adaptability, against a backdrop of weak demand from traditional trading partners in Europe and growing competition from Asia. By delivering a service-led approach in their markets, they continue to generate the growth so keenly needed.”

Join us on
Follow @freshbusiness