Britain’s Top 10 Private Family Businesses 2020
10th December 2020
The Sunday Times has published its annual league table of Britain’s top 100 private companies. The list, produced by Fast Track, is published each year and includes top private firms ranked by their sales' performance.
Showing the incredible variety of private companies, this list is yet another testament to the fact that some of the biggest and most successful private businesses in the UK are family businesses, operating across all sectors and regions, with many long-standing members of the IFB amongst them.
This year, in light of the Covid-19 crisis, Fast Track has also published a supplement, highlighting how the UK's biggest private companies have supported the country during the crisis.
Top 10 Private Family Firms 2020
1. EG Group (Issa family, sales 17.6bn)
Blackburn-born brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa have donated £350,000 to hospitals in east Lancashire and offered free coffee to NHS workers using the group’s petrol stations. The pair run Europe’s largest independent fuel retailer, backed by TDR Capital, which operates thousands of BP, Esso and Shell sites across Britain and the Continent.
2. Swire (Swire family, sales £10.6bn)
Swire is the largest shareholder in Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific, which reduced passenger capacity by 96% during 2020 as the global lockdown took effect, and last month raised £4bn from the Hong Kong government. The group has operated in Asia for more than 150 years, with its publicly quoted arm, Swire Pacific, listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange. It has donated millions to help the territory combat Covid-19. Barnaby Swire is the sixth generation of his family to run the group, which was founded in Liverpool in 1816.
3. Pentland Group (Rubin family, sales £5.1bn)
Speedo, Lacoste and Canterbury are among the popular clothing brands in Pentland’s portfolio. During the pandemic, Lacoste reopened its factories to produce protective clothing for medics, while Berghaus and Endura offered 50% discounts to key workers. Pentland also retains a majority stake in JD Sports — which closed all its stores as Covid-19 struck — after it sold a 2.5% stake, worth £180m, last year to finance the purchase of Speedo’s north American business, completed in April. Founded in 1932, Pentland is led by chairman Stephen Rubin and his son, Andy, who is deputy chairman.
4. Arnold Clark (Clark family, sales 4.5bn)
One of Britain’s largest independent car dealers group, this Glasgow family business was founded in 1954 by Sir Arnold Clark. firm closed all its 200 dealerships in response to the pandemic and offered cars to help NHS workers get to work. Owned by the Clark family and led by chief executive Eddie Hawthorne, 53, it sells about 300,000 vehicles a year.
5. Dyson (Dyson family, sales £4.4bn)
Dyson announced in March that it would make 10,000 ventilators for the NHS. In late April the government said they were no longer needed, and founder Sir James Dyson, covered the £20m development costs himself. Last year the company moved its headquarters to Singapore, and in March Roland Krueger, became chief executive, having previously headed Dyson’s electric car project, abandoned in October.
6. JCB (Bamford family, sales £4.2bn)
JCB closed 21 of its 22 factories, from India to Brazil, in March, and furloughed most of its 6,500 UK staff. In April, engineers making medical-grade visors for the NHS at home were given access to 3D printers. It also donated personal protective equipment (PPE) to the NHS and distributed more than 35,000 meals to vulnerable people. It is owned by the Bamford family and led by chief executive Graeme Macdonald.
7. Bestway Group (Pervez family, sales £3.5bn)
Britain’s largest privately owned cash and-carry group has played a crucial role in maintaining the country’s food supply chain throughout the pandemic. It normally supplies more than 70,000 independent retailers and 40,000 caterers and pubs. Bestway also owns the Well Pharmacy chain, which has invested in PPE for its staff, remote working and online sales. Founded as a grocery store in 1963 by chairman Sir Anwar Pervez the group also owns a listed bank and a cement manufacturer in his native Pakistan, where it donated £3m to a coronavirus relief fund.
8. Bet365 (Coates family, sales £3bn)
In March, Bet365 announced it was to pay its 4,389 employees in full until at least August. The online bookmaker has customers across more than 100 countries who bet on sports, play casino games and watch in excess of 160,000 live events a year — activity that has been curtailed during the pandemic. It is owned by the Coates family, and is also the majority shareholder of Stoke City FC. A foundation, established by Bet365’s co-chief executive, Denise Coates, committed to donate £10m to the company’s hometown NHS trust in Stoke to help combat the coronavirus.
9. Specsavers (Perkins family, sales £3bn)
Specsavers launched its first online service for UK customers just before the pandemic struck, and shops have remained open for essential and urgent care. It also introduced free nationwide sight and hearing consultations via video or voice call.The Guernsey-based group operates more than 2,000 stores in 10 countries, each part-owned by the optician and audiologist partners running them, with Australia its largest overseas market. It was founded by Dame Mary Perkins, 76, and her husband Doug, 77.
10. EMR (Sheppard family, £3.4bn)
EMR’s recycling operations were significantly curtailed during the lockdown, with services provided only to businesses in critical need of them. Led by chief executive Chris Sheppard, the group recycles 10 million tons of metal and plastics a year at its 170 sites worldwide, from cans, domestic appliances and trains to buildings, bridges, oil rigs and ships. It recently processed three American aircraft carriers, including USS Ranger, which featured in the film Top Gun.
The IFB supports family businesses to thrive across the generations.