Utilities giant Pennon has been named the biggest company in Devon and Cornwall.
The Exeter-based firm, which owns South West Water and Bournemouth Water, sold its waste management arm Viridor this year in a £4.2billion deal.
With a turnover of almost £1.4 billion and more than 5,000 employees, Pennon tops this year’s Annual Business Guide: Top 150 businesses in Devon and Cornwall, published today by BusinessLive and sister print title Western Morning News.
The FTSE100 company is a powerhouse for the regional economy and has been a key voice for the Great South West movement.
In at number two is The Range empire, owned by Devon billionaire Chris Dawson.
The discount retailer, with a turnover of £942,679 million, is still the region’s biggest employer with 10,089 workers.
Mr Dawson, who went from rags to riches as a former market trader to retail magnate with a fortune of more than £2billion kept his stores trading during lockdown, insisting it was an essential retailer.
In at number three, is Devonport Dockyard, operated by Babcock International, with a turnover of £705,243,000 and 5,541 employees.
It has been a difficult year for the engineering, defence and aerospace giant which also operates Rosyth in Scotland. The coronavirus pandemic had caused underlying revenue to fall for the first quarter of 2020 by 11% compared with 2019.
Most notably in this year’s list is the loss of Flybe, which featured at number three last year. The airline had ongoing financial difficulties before it was sold to Connect Airways in 2019 employing 2,159 staff, including around 1,000 based at Exeter Airport.
But despite attempts at a rescue deal, it finally collapsed in March just as the Covid-19 lockdown hit.
Now, it looks as though Flybe is set to be revived and could take to the skies next year after its sale was confirmed to a former shareholder.
Flybe’s business and assets, including the brand, intellectual property, stock and equipment to Thyme Opco Limited, a company affiliated with investment adviser Cyrus Capital. Cyrus was a shareholder of Flybe, along with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic, before its collapse.
The data for this year’s list has been compiled by Annual Business Guide partners PKF Francis Clark and for the second year running has been ranked by turnover rather than employee numbers.
The guide, which is officially published today, acts as a barometer for vital sectors, towns and cities across the region.
Duncan Leslie, partner at PKF Francis Clark, said: “Flybe’s high-profile demise was undeniably a major blow to the South West economy and this is part of a wider issue following the collapse of Thomas Cook in 2019 and Monarch before that, so not specifically a South West phenomenon. This part of the travel sector looks to have some huge issues to work through. I fear we are likely to see more airlines succumb to the global pandemic, though, on a more positive note, domestic tourism could prosper in the context of reduced international travel.
“The elephant in the room is, of course, Covid-19. Since the table is based on the latest publicly available accounts, the impact of the pandemic remains to be seen in these figures. Anecdotally, businesses in the region have shown great resilience so far, helped by the Government support schemes.”
“This year’s top 150 have generated a collective £13.9bn in turnover, only marginally down on £14bn last year. This highlights the huge importance of these companies and their success to the economy of Devon and Cornwall.”
There has been some movement in the top 20, notably Princess Yachts, Vospers of Plymouth, Gregory Distribution and Cambium Networks all climbing at least two places. There are two new entrants among this elite group – Scot Group and Troy (UK).
Total employment by the top 150 stands at 77,000 (2019: 75,000), with the top 20 making up over half of this figure. A fifth of the companies listed employ more than 500 people.
More than half of this year’s new entrants come from the wholesale and retail and manufacturing sectors. The highest ranking new names are Wrafton Laboratories and Murray Holdings (SW), who join the list in 42nd and 47th place respectively.
For those interested in cross-Tamar rivalry, 77% of the top 150 are headquartered in Devon and 23% in Cornwall – an identical split to 2019. However, Cornwall’s total turnover contribution has risen by 4% to £2.7bn, while Devon’s has decreased by 2% to £11.2bn, reflecting the loss of Flybe.
At a sector level, wholesale and retail accounts for 41% of the top 150 firms, with The Range, Helston Garages Group and Mole Valley Farmers leading the way.
Manufacturing firms make up 24% of the top 150 – with key players including Devonport Royal Dockyard, Dunbia (UK) and Norbord Europe – followed by property and construction, at 9%.
Devon and Cornwall’s 150 biggest businesses represent 17 different industry sectors, highlighting the diverse employment base which has long been one of our region’s economic strengths.
Mr Leslie said: “This has helped us to weather previous recessions and we remain optimistic that it will stand us in good stead again in these uncertain times.”
But it does not include the impact of businesses that employ large numbers locally but are based (registered office address) outside of Devon and Cornwall.
It also excludes public sector and not-for-profit organisations.
Here is the Top 150
1 (1): Pennon Group Plc, Exeter, Devon
A new chief executive, a £20million windfall for customers, the £4.2billion sale of Viridor, and, of course, the coronavirus crisis – it’s been some year for the West Country’s biggest business.
South West Water (SWW) may have taken a £10million hit during the Covid-19 lockdown, particularly as some business demand drained away, but the company was expecting this and parent firm Pennon Group Plc promises it is on track to deliver “resilient” financial results in 2021.
Pennon is looking beyond the current crisis, with big plans to invest, in new technology and environmental improvements, and in its workforce, and by using some of the proceeds of its Viridor sale to pay down debt and bolster its pension scheme.
And then there is the £20million handout to customers, a bonus from the Exeter-headquartered firm’s over-performance on its 2015-2020 business plan, which customers can choose to take as shares in the company or a £20 bill reduction.
That is part of a scheme called WaterShare+, a feature of SWW’s 2020-2025 New Deal business plan, and to be overseen by Lib-Dem peer Lord Taylor.
Pennon welcomed new chief executive Susan Davy, former chief finance officer, who has replaced Chris Loughlin, who stepped down after a four-year tenure.
The sale of the recycling and waste disposal arm in July 2020, to investment firm Planets UK Bidco, brought in £4.2billion and Pennon has a plan for the cash, including shrinking its £900million debt pile.
2 (2): NORTON GROUP HOLDINGS LIMITED (CDS Superstores Ltd), Plymouth, Devon
Plymouth entrepreneur Chris Dawson started his career as a market trader
Retail magnate Chris Dawson, a former market trader now among Britain’s most recognisable business faces, kept his The Range empire trading during the lockdown, stressing they sold essential items such as groceries, cleaning products, non-prescription medicines and toilet roll.
This received some criticism from the public, but probably not The Range’s thousands of customers, who continued to use more than 175 stores, including three in Mr Dawson’s home city, Plymouth.
In early 2019 he gave Plymouth the third of those, a stunning £2million superstore at Derriford which created 80 jobs. The Range, which Mr Dawson once described as “a poor man’s John Lewis”, now employs more than 10,000 people and has a turnover that has risen from 2019’s £869million. It made £101million in profit in 2019.
Sitting at number 67 in the Sunday Times Rich List, with a fortune of £2.05billion, Mr Dawson, or more accurately his wife Sarah, saw their wealth rise by £60million pre-pandemic.
That is because Mr Dawson has followed the lead taken by his compeer Sir Philip Green by signing over the discount giant to his 57-year-old wife, who is based in Jersey. The couple met when he sold her an £8.99 watch for a bargain £5 outside a pub.
3 (4): DEVONPORT ROYAL DOCKYARD LIMITED (Babcock International Ltd), Plymouth, Devon
Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth, operated by Babcock
It’s been another stormy year for engineering giant Babcock International Group PLC which scrapped its dividend after seeing revenues decimated during the coronavirus pandemic.
The defence and aerospace company, which operates the huge dockyards at Devonport in Plymouth and Rosyth in Scotland, said the coronavirus pandemic had caused underlying revenue to fall for the first quarter of 2020 by 11% compared with 2019.
Part of this was due to the company’s 2018 loss of the Magnox contract with the Government to clean up nuclear reactor sites, and weakness in the firm’s land adjacent market short cycle businesses, including South Africa.
But COVID-19 had a “significant impact” on the financial results in the period the firm said. Necessary safety constraints on close proximity working had a significant impact on costs and efficiency,directly impacting margins and profitability.
Restricted access to customer sites, complex safety measures, reduced numbers of staff on site, changed shift patterns and additional costs led to slower progress on some work streams which impacted margins on some of Babcock’s long-term contracts.
It meant underlying operating profit for the first quarter was about 40%lower than in 2019. About half of this profit reduction was due to lower levels of productivity in the core business and the company said uncertainty around the duration and extent of the impact of Covid-19 on productivity, margins and pipeline development meant the board made the “exceptional” decision not to pay a final dividend for the financial year ended March 31, 2020.
The firm did, however, point to an order book at June 30 of £17.3billion and a bid pipeline of about £17billion and said orders in the quarter were £0.7billion and in July the company secured about £500million of new contracts in its aviation business, helped by the delays in bid decisions beginning to clear.
In 2019 the company shut its Appledore shipyard, in North Devon, saw share prices tumble, and twice had to fend off a hostile merger plan from outsourcing rival Serco.
It also revealed an extra £10million tax hit due to Brexit and the restructuring of its aerial emergency services business. That was after it was extruded from the FTSE 100, in 2018, with Just Eat gobbling up its place.
Chairman Mike Turner left the firm after 11 years as chairman and Ruth Cairnie, a former Royal Dutch Shell executive, became the first chairwoman of the FTSE 250 firm.
And it has a new chief executive now too, with David Lockwood taking over in September 2020 from Archie Bethel, who stepped down after 16 years with the company.
Mr Lockwood, aged 58, was previously chief executive of Cobham Plc, running one of the UK’s largest defence companies and a leading global technology and services innovator for three years.
4. (5): HELSTON GARAGES GROUP LIMITED, Helston, Cornwall
The Helston Garages Group operates 43 motor dealerships throughout Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset. Established in 1960, the family-run business has expanded from a single filling station and repairs workshop to one of the UK’s top 25 dealerships. The portfolio includes Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Maserati and Volkswagen.
5. (6): MOLE VALLEY FARMERS LIMITED, South Molton, Devon
This South West retail firm is one of the UK’s largest agricultural suppliers with holdings in Wales and more recently Scotland. This includes Mole Valley Farmers branches and Bridgman’s stores across the South West, Mole Country Stores, Cox & Robinson farm direct outlets in the South and East of England, and manufacturing sites across England, and Scotland.
Formed by a band of disgruntled maverick farmers in South Molton, Mole Valley Farmers marked its 60th anniversary this year.
Chief Executive Andrew Jackson retired in 2019, in a year when seasonal weather influenced farmers’ buying choices, good weather meant less reliance on bought-in feed and economic uncertainty over Brexit mean farming customers were more cautious, spending less on non-essential items – and that was before the Covid-19 lockdown hit.
In September, Mole Valley secured a £50million debt facility to bolster its working capital needs while the animal feed side of the business has grown.
The cash will help MVF flex with seasonal and weather-based fluctuations in trading, help deliver the strength to negotiate even better deals with suppliers and provides a strong platform for our future plans.
6. (7): DUNBIA (UK), Hatherleigh, Devon
Brothers Jim and Jack Dobson established Dungannon Meats, a premium butchers shop in Moygashel, Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland, in 1976, and the business has expanded through organic growth and via multiple acquisitions.
A strategic partnership between Dawn Meats and Dunbia was formed in 2017 and Dunbia now comprises of 12 sites across the UK. These include Dunbia Treburley abattoir and processing plant in Launceston, and the Dunbia West Devon abattoir at Hatherleigh.
In July this year, Dawn Meats took full control of the Dunbia business after Jim Dobson’s retirement.
7. (8): NORBORD EUROPE LIMITED, South Molton, Devon
This world-leading manufacturer of engineered wood-based panel products has been supplying products to Europe for over 40 years.
It has three mills in the UK and one in Belgium. Its South Molton site manufactures particleboard, loft flooring panels, Contiboard DIY shelving and flat pack furniture.
Norbord Europe is part of Norbord Incorporated, with headquarters in Toronto, Canada, publicly owned and listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange
8. (11): RNO LIMITED (Princess Yachts International Ltd), Plymouth, Devon
The UK’s largest yacht maker launched a trailblazing new vessel and is already planning an equally stylish sister ship as it bounces back from the coronavirus lockdown.
Princess Yachts has completed sea trials for the X95, and is now working on unleashing the slightly smaller X80.The company, which employs more than 3,000 workers in the Ocean City, said it has “re-written the rules” on yacht design with the X95 – and now has done it again.
Princess Yachts has stressed its “aggressive investment strategy”, and the company’s record financial position and full order book, are the reasons it has been able to create such high-spec new yacht designs.
The manufacturer sent 98% of staff home and carried out a “controlled shutdown” in March after coming under increasing pressure from the workforce and public to cease operations.
The company began returning to production in early May 2020 and is now working on fulfilling its order book for 2020 and 2021.
At the start of June it launched the X95, which came with its own on-board cinema and, of course, a Skylounge. And X80 is due to take to the water in 2021, becoming the second member of the X Class Superfly family.
Princess toasted international sales of £263.8million in 2018 – and has been growing exports at an average of 33% per year over two years, on total sales of £340.3million. In 2018 the company launched six new models, including the carbon fibre R35 sports boat.
In January 2020 it enjoyed “unprecedented stand visitor numbers and levels of sales” across its range throughout the eight-day Boot Düsseldorf 2020 show in Germany.
At that time it had an order book of £0.6billion and in January 2020 it was reported the company had brought in advisers so it can obtain a cash infusion from shareholders and keep up with mounting orders.
It announced record profits of £30million in June 2019 and set new records for yacht sales and employment.
9: CWC (UK HOLDINGS) LIMITED, Exeter, Devon
The Exeter-based company has four Mercedes Benz South West dealerships, in Exeter, Taunton, Plymouth and Truro. It reported pre-pandemic profits of £8million, which were 21% up on a year earlier. When it emerged from lockdown in June, it brought in several measures to keep staff and customers safe. These included remote valuations and part exchange, 48-hour delivery and unaccompanied test drives.
Fully owned by Friday Holdings, the business has more than four decades of motor industry experience. Chairman Anthony Wickins, aged 69, Founded the business in 1977, his son Michael, aged 49, is now the managing director.
During the first decade of the 21st Century it underwent a multi-million-pound investment programme to create its four state-of-the-art automotive retailing outlets.
Mercedes-Benz of Exeter was the first of the new generation of Mercedes-Benz outlets unveiled in the UK when it began trading in January 2002 and was followed by the opening of equally impressive premises in Taunton ( 2004), Plymouth (2005) and Truro (2007).
10. (10): ACCORD-UK LTD, Barnstaple, Devon
One of North Devon’s biggest employers, this pharmaceutical company is involved in the development, manufacturing and distribution of pharmaceutical products to more than 70 countries.
It employs more than 700 people making five billion tablets every year at its manufacturing plant in North Devon. It supplies generic medicines and is one of the fastest growing generic pharmaceutical companies in the UK and Ireland.
11 (12): MIDAS GROUP LIMITED, Exeter, Devon
One of the UK’s largest privately-owned construction and property services companies, Midas has grown to become one of the UK’s largest independent construction and property services providers, with offices in Indian Queens in Cornwall, Exeter, Newton Abbot, Bristol, Newport in South Wales and Southampton.
It is building Exeter’s new £6.6million zero-carbon office and laboratory building, the Ada Lovelace Building on Exeter Science Park, which is on course for completion in 2021 and is expected to bring 150 jobs to the city.
Highlights of Midas’ year include recognition at the Michelmores Property Awards for Kresen Kernow, the iconic new archive centre for Cornwall and South Devon College’s new Hi Tech & Digital Centre, shortlisted for the Building of the Year Award.
12. (14): VOSPERS OF PLYMOUTH LIMITED, Plymouth, Devon
The car dealership founded by Peter’s father in 1946 is run by father-and-son bosses Peter and Nick Vosper.
Last year, it opened its £12million car sales supersite in Exeter and managed to navigate Covid-19 lockdown this year, saying that pent-up demand soon brought trade back to pre-Covid levels.
Peter Vosper, 78, said on re-opening in June: ” I have been through a Ford strike, many, many recessions and the three-day week but I have never been through anything like this.”
The company operates multiple dealerships with main bases in Truro, Plymouth and Exeter.
13. (17): GREGORY DISTRIBUTION (HOLDINGS) LIMITED, Exeter, Devon
The Devon distribution, storage and logistics company celebrated its centenary year in 2019 after starting life in North Tawton with a single Model T Ford Truck.
But like most firms, Gregory has been hit by the Covid-19 downturn, announcing in May that it had to make 100 redundancies. It is still one of the region’s biggest employers, operating 36 depots across the UK.
Its latest acquisition is the 75,500sq ft high bay warehouse at PowerPark 38, the new name for the former BCT tile factory in Heathfield. BCT went into administration with the loss of 300 jobs in 2019 and the site had been vacant since.
At the time, Gregory said it was making 30 staff redundant became of the collapse of BCT, which was one of its clients. The facility will be used by Gregory for the storage and distribution of up to 12,000 pallets.
The firm has a fleet of more than 750 vehicles and 1,200 trailers, and has more than 400 customers ranging from local companies to large, multi-national organisations, and lists many national brand names amongst its customers. It’s vehicles cover 75million miles every year.
Chief executive John Gregory, aged 62, runs the company, which was started by his grandfather. In 2018, it acquired ARR Craib Transport Ltd, whose headquarters are in Aberdeen, with additional operations in Cumbernauld, Stockton and Great Yarmouth. It also acquired the Scottish firm Highland Haulage.
14 (15): IMERYS MINERALS LIMITED, Par Moor, Cornwall
Imerys operates 18 active quarry and industrial facilities in Devon and Cornwall and pumps an estimated £100 million into the local economy annually. Around 80 per cent of production is exported to more than 75 countries worldwide.
Based at Par Moor, near St Austell, the firm’s activities in Cornwall focus on kaolin (china clay) extraction and processing with the UK being the world’s third largest producer and exporter of kaolin after Brazil and the USA.
China clay from Cornwall supplies the ceramics, performance minerals and refractory markets and the paper-making industry.
The world-leading company has successfully re-positioned its Cornish product portfolio to reflect the changes in lower demand in Cornish clays from the paper-making industry, and focused more on the ceramics and performance minerals markets (such as paints, rubbers, polymers and cosmetics).
The internationally acclaimed science and technology function based at Imerys’s Technology Centre-UK, at Par Moor, employs more than 50 skilled scientists and technicians exploring new and emerging markets and end uses for locally produced china clay products, as well as other minerals Imerys has interests in globally.
Where land is no longer required for mining use, Imerys is carrying out award-winning restoration schemes and supporting the regeneration of clay country through the West Carclaze Garden Village project, as well as providing land for key infrastructure projects such as the A391 improvement at Carluddon and employment developments with the ESAM building and Technology Park.
15 .(16): ST.AUSTELL BREWERY COMPANY LIMITED, St. Austell, Cornwall
St Austell Brewery was entering into a new chapter in its history and numbers were looking good when the pandemic hit back in March and put a lot of things on hold.
Before the lockdown was imposed on the nation on March 23, St Austell Brewery saw Kevin Georgel join the business as chief executive following the retirement of James Staughton, who had led the business for 20 years.
Kevin, who was previously chief executive at Admiral Taverns, had also been a non-executive director at St Austell Brewery for four years.
In February, the family-owned independent brewery, which also owns Bath Ales, announced the acquisition of two iconic hotels in Devon – Dartmouth’s Royal Castle Hotel and the Royal Seven Stars, in Totnes as part of plans to strengthen and expand the firm’s managed pub estate across the South West region.
In March, Andrew Turner joined the business in the newly created role of managing director of beer and brands. Having previously worked as trading director for Heineken UK, he now leads our own beer and wholesale drinks business.
Steve Worrall, who had worked at the brewery as retail director for two years, became the managing director of pubs, inns and hotels.
Trade was up at the start of the year, but income fell by 90% for the three months that pubs were forced to close..
It continued production of its core beers – including Tribute, Proper Job Korev – for supermarkets nationwide and delivered via its online shop service.
The brewery is optimistic about the staycation trend and is investing in its pubs and hotels portfolio.
16. (19): CAMBIUM NETWORKS LTD, Ashburton, Devon
This global wireless broadband and telecommunications provider has its UK base in Ashburton. The firm, headquartered in Illinois , USA, counts governmental and military agencies; oil, gas and utility companies among its clients. It has R&D centres in the states, Ashburton and Bangalore, India.
17. (18): CORSERV LIMITED, Wadebridge, Cornwall
The Corserv Group is owned by Cornwall Council and includes Cormac Solutions, Cornwall Airport Newquay, Cornwall Development Company and Cornwall Housing. It provides highways and civil engineering, environmental projects, social housing and private lettings, adult social care, building management services, economic development; and transport.
18. (24): SCOT GROUP LIMITED, Exeter, Devon
Operates both the Dollar and Thrifty car rental brands in the UK and is the largest privately owned rental company in the UK.
Its founder Nigel Spokes featured in this year’s Sunday Times Rich List. Featured at 19, Mr Spokes and family have a reported fortune of £315million.
Based at Marsh Barton, it was set up by Nigel’s parents Clive Spokes and Maureen Bull in 1971 with just nine vehicles, it now has more than 17,000. The family fortune is up by £10million this year, according to the Rich List.
19.(25): TROY (UK) LIMITED, Exeter, Devon
Established in 1986, Troy (UK) Ltd is the UK’s leading group of independent engineering distributors of tools and equipment.
From headquarters at Exeter Skypark, it has a network of 212 distributors in 324 locations across the UK and Ireland.
In April 2018, Troy UK Ltd expanded with the acquisition of THS Tools, one of the UK’s largest buying groups for independent industrial distributors with over 100 Members and 180 Suppliers, based in Rotherham.
THS Tools operates as a division of Troy UK limited and under its own branding.
20. (20): APPLEBY WESTWARD GROUP LIMITED, Saltash, Cornwall
Appleby Westward is the SPAR Retail Distribution Centre for the Westcountry. Its distribution services stores from Bournemouth, Southampton and Portsmouth in the East through to Helston, Falmouth and Truro in Cornwall and as far north as Bristol and Bath.
21. (23): NEWCROSS HEALTHCARE SOLUTIONS LIMITED, Totnes, Devon
Started in 1996 by Michelle Gorringe RN and Stephen Pattrick, the care provider has grown a network throughout the UK, this year pioneering an in-house Covid-19 testing team for staff.
It provides clinical and administrative support to help care for sick and vulnerable people through a nationwide network of 60 centres and training facilities.
22. (21): DE VAN AUTOMOTIVE LIMITED (Grevan Cars Ltd t/a Ocean) , Plymouth, Devon
The company behind the Ocean BMW and Mini dealerships in Plymouth, Falmouth and Torbay.
23. (22): LIVEWELL SOUTHWEST CIC, Plymouth, Devon
Livewell Southwest is an independent social enterprise providing integrated health and social care services for people across Plymouth, South Hams and West Devon, as well as some specialist services for people living in parts of Devon and Cornwall.
It has teams in community hospitals, GP practices, sports centres and health and wellbeing hubs.
This year it has rolled out new perinatal mental health support, services to support adults with autism and opened a Place of Safety suite for children with mental health difficulties.
24. (26): PRO – DIRECT GROUP LIMITED, Newton Abbot, Devon
World’s largest online sports retailer based in Shaldon Road, Newton Abbot. It specialises in football, rugby and running gear.
25. (28): HAWKINS HOLDINGS LIMITED , St Austell, Cornwall
The holding company of Hawkins Motor Group, Cornwall’s longest established family car dealership.
The business started in 1940 selling tractors, cars, motorcycles and cycles and in 1946, became agents for the British motorcycle brands Arial, BSA, Norton, Vincent, Scott and AJS.
In 1972, it became the main Peugeot dealer in Cornwall and began to expand beyond St Stephen and across the county.
Now, the seventh generation of the Hawkins family has joined the business. It is franchised dealers for new cars and commercial vehicles from manufacturers including Citroen, Hyundai, Kia and Mitsubishi wirh sites in St Stephen, St Austell, Blackwater Truro, Penryn, Hayle and Launceston.
In 2019, Hawkins opened a second Mitsubishi dealership with St Stephen now joining Penryn.
Hawkins has develop and produced the UK’s smallest van based on the Peugeot 108.
26. (34): GALPHARM INTERNATIONAL LIMITED, Braunton, Devon
This medicine manufacturer is a subsidiary of Perrigo Company plc. It makes healthcare remedies from ibuprofen to hayfever relief.
27.(31): CHARLES ROBERTSON (HOLDINGS) LIMITED (Trago Mills), Liskeard, Cornwall
Trago opened its first ever store outside of the region in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales in 2018 but in May warned that it could be forced to mothball its Merthyr store unless the Welsh Government performs a U-turn on its decision not to give business rate relief holidays to larger firms impacted by the pandemic.
Like most retailers, Trago has been hit by the Covid pandemic and this has resulted in a redundancy plan to cut around 140 jobs across its stores in Devon, Cornwall and Wales.
28. (27): WAINHOMES (SOUTH WEST) HOLDINGS LIMITED, Exeter, Devon
The regional new home builder based at Exeter International Office Park at Clyst Honiton is Wainhomes is currently building The Leighs housing development in Chudleigh. It joins sites throughout Cornwall and Devon and sister businesses in the North West and Severn Valley.
29. (32): PENCARRIE GROUP LIMITED, Willand, Devon
This family-owned company has been operating for 25 years and is now the UK’s leading wholesale clothing supplier.
30.(29): TOSHIBA CARRIER UK LTD, Plymouth, Devon
The air conditioning arm of the business is based at Roborough.Its award-winning systems are supplied to offices, shops, hotels, hospitals and healthcare facilities, universities and leisure centres. The Toshiba range spans small, compact systems up to large distributed VRF systems for air conditioning multi-storey buildings.
Toshiba Carrier UK Ltd achieved double success in the ACR News Awards 2019, winning Website of the Year for Toshiba’s online installer training programme and coveted Chiller of the Year Award for Carrier’s AquaForce Vision Chiller.
31. (42): RITTAL-C S M LIMITED, Plymouth, Devon
Classed as a key supplier during lockdown, Rittal-CSM has been in huge demand with customers needing more data infrastructure to keep their remote staff online.
The Roborough-based manufacturer makes metal cabinets (also known as ‘racks’) for servers and data centres in the IT sector, as well as the enclosures used to house mechanical and electrical equipment in a wide variety of industrial sectors.
As organisations across the world have turned to Microsoft Teams and other systems to run their business remotely, the critical data infrastructure providers – have been constructing new data centres to handle the new demand in online traffic.
The Plymouth manufacturer is among Plymouth’s biggest employers. Part of the German Friedhelm Loh Group, it can produce 700 cabinets a day, with the production line operating non-stop from Sunday night to Friday, with overtime and maintenance at the weekends.
The majority of the finished enclosures are sent to Europe, particularly to large distribution hubs, with about 30 lorry loads leaving each day. Other products go straight to customers such as Hewlett Packard.
32. (35): CREDITON DAIRY LIMITED, Crediton, Devon
Crediton Dairy is one of the UK’s leading dairy drinks businesses supplying more than 13,500 stores with chilled milk drinks, iced coffee, long life milk and creams across the UK and overseas.
It has announced a major £12million investment in its flavoured and functional milk processing facility. The investment will see a significant expansion in Crediton’s processing capacity with the aim of becoming a recognised leader in the production of added value milk drinks.
It has invested £14 million since an MBO in 2013, Crediton Dairy has made significant progress in building its capability to produce milk drinks including its branded Arctic iced coffee range, Moo flavoured milks, Flora Pro Activ, Lactose free milk and most recently a2 milk, as a result of a supply partnership with the a2 Milk Company.
Work on building the new production hall is expected to be completed by Autumn 2021.
33. (30): CENTRAX HOLDINGS LIMITED, Newton Abbot, Devon
Centrax supplies gas turbine-driven generator sets worldwide. It was founded in 1946 by Richard H H Barr OBE and the late Geoffrey R White after both worked with Sir Frank Whittle in the Power Jets Design Team during the 1940s – pioneering the use of the gas turbine for use in aircraft propulsion.
34. (36): FTI MANAGEMENT LIMITED, Barnstaple Devon
The company behind RGB Building Supplies, one of the leading independent builders merchants in the South West operating out of 20 locations across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset.
35. (37) : BANDVULC TYRES LTD, Ivybridge, Devon
Serving a third of the UK’s supermarket fleets, Plymouth’s immense tyre factory is continuing its growth as the UK’s leading UK fleet management service provider and independent truck tyre retreader.
The business was acquired from the founding O’Connell family by Continental Tyre Group in early 2017 and now pumps out 180,000 retreaded tyres a year – a quarter of the national market.
Bandvulc also fits new tyres for Continental, also bringing jobs to the Lee Mill site, and has a fleet of 30 trucks to bring casings in and send retreads out.
36.(55): Champion Groundworks Ltd, Liskeard, Cornwall
Fred Champion is one of the largest groundworks contractors in Cornwall. Projects include roads and sewers infrastructure, student accommodation, hospitals, major housing developments and commercial industrial buildings.
The groundworks division is the core business and in recent years, it has expanded into bulk excavation, land remediation, piling, concrete construction and plant hire.
37. (40) : RIVERFORD ORGANIC FARMERS LIMITED, Staverton, Devon
Demand for Riverford home deliveries went through the roof when lockdown hot, with the Staverton-based business reporting sales akin to the Christmas rush.
Riverford was forced to close its shop to new customers, concentrating on its core registered customers and simplified its range to meet demand.
The trend of ethical buying remains strong and big news this year for Riverford is becoming certified B Corp. B Corp is a trusted symbol for ethical businesses that uphold the highest social and environmental standards.
Riverford became employee owned in May 2018, a move that its CEO Rob Haward said at the time has given the company a “huge forward momentum” and increased engagement with customers, media and employees, now co-owners. But with Brexit ever closer on the horizon, Riverford is planning for short term disruption but should fare well because of its direct and long-term relationships with suppliers, the location in the south west means it can benefit from the low-freight route between Plymouth and Roscoff and the veg box concept meaning supply can vary weekly depending on availability.
38. (53): SEASALT HOLDINGS LIMITED, Falmouth, Cornwall
Cornish fashion brand Seasalt Ltd closed three of its South West stores even though it is in profit and saw a sales surge over Christmas.
The company, named last year as the 14th fastest growing in Devon and Cornwall, closed its outlets in Salcombe in Devon, Clarks Village in Somerset, and Guernsey in the Channel Islands.
But it has opened a new store in St Andrews, Scotland and a sustainable concept store in Norwich.
Seasalt has around 70 UK and Ireland stores and an online site.
The company had positive sales growth over Christmas across all channels for the five weeks to January 4, 2020.
Online sales leaped 13% and UK stores saw a 15% sales increase year-on-year. International sales were also up, by 43% over the Christmas period.In November 2019, Seasalt announced pre-tax profits had jumped to £2.5million with a turnover growth of 29% to £66million.
In June 2019 it opened its first international store in Clonakilty, Ireland.
In addition, online sales jumped 35% with strong growth in Germany and the USA. There was a 21% hike in active online customers too, attracted by 12 collections over the year.
39. (48): ATLANTIC INERTIAL SYSTEMS LIMITED, Plymouth Devon
Plymouth’s Atlantic Inertial Systems Ltd specialises in the design, development and manufacture of military guidance and navigation technology.
The firm’s main focus is MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical Systems) inertial technology, which is now widely used for the guidance of precision weapons, thereby minimising collateral damage.
The Southway-based company, part of the huge UTC Aerospace Systems empire, also supplies its TERPROM product, a predictive ground proximity warning system used to increase safety on fast jets and military transport aircraft, to international users.
The firm dates from 1913 when it was Sperry Gyro. It became AIS in 2007. The MEMS technology was introduced in 2005, when the firm was owned by BAE Systems, and has evolved to form the major part of what is now a £56million manufacturing business.
AIS has a global customer base with 83 per cent of 2017 trade in export to the US, Far East, Middle East and Europe.
40. (41): CAVANNA GROUP LIMITED, Torquay, Devon
Founded by PD Cavanna in Torquay in 1923, the construction firm is still family owned with third and fourth generation family members involved in the day-to-day business.
The company’s turnover increased 6.4% to £64.7 million in 2018 against 2017. It sold 290 new homes, consisting of 201 open market and 89 affordable homes. In 2017, it sold 239 homes across Devon.
Cavanna Homes also said that 2018 saw a “record” number of its sites in development across the South West. At the same time, the business has seen the effects of Brexit uncertainty, causing people to wait and see what this will mean for the country and their own personal circumstances. In 2019, Cavanna launched Cavanna @ Wolborough Hill in Newton Abbot, Broadleigh Park in Tavistock and Lyme View in Holcombe, near Dawlish.
41. (44): WATSON-MARLOW LIMITED, Falmouth Cornwall
World leading manufacturer of specialist pumps and tubing for the food, pharmaceutical, chemical and environmental industries.
42. WRAFTON LABORATORIES LIMITED, Barnstaple, Devon
Owned by Perrigo, the same parent company as Galpharm, ranked 27, Wrafton Laboratories develops, manufactures, and distributes over-the-counter medicines and healthcare products. The Company markets its products to retail healthcare outlets and pharmacies throughout the United Kingdom, the United States, Israel, Mexico, India, China, and Australia.
43. (38): SEARCHFLOW LIMITED, Exeter, Devon
Searchflow Ltd runs more than one million conveyancing searches every year for over 2,500 legal clients in England and Wales for the past 25 years
It is owned by DMGT, which has a portfolio of property data services including Landmark Information Group, Argyll & OchreSoft.
44. (58): HELTOR LTD, Heathfield, Devon
Founded in the early 1960s on the family farm, the heating oil and fuel specialist has grown to supply the South West from four bases in Devon and Cornwall.
It is an authorised gulf petroleum distributor serving commercial agricultural and domestic customers.
It operates a full range of tankers, from small vehicles for narrow lanes delivering 500 litres to its largest artic tankers making deliveries of 36,000 litres.
45. (43): PERCY R BREND & SONS (HOLDINGS) LIMITED, Torquay, Devon
Owner of the Brend Hotels portfolio of 11 luxury hotels across Devon and Cornwall including the Devon Hotel in Exeter, Carlyon Bay in Cornwall and The Imperial Hotel in Torquay.
In June last year, Peter Brend Senior, one of six directors of the family-run group, died aged 61 after a long battle with his health.
46. MURRAY HOLDINGS (SW) LIMITED, Plymouth, Devon
Murray Holdings, formally known as Curzon, is behind Murray Volkswagen and Skoda in Plymouth and Newton Abbot.
The family owned car dealership, was set up by managing director Kevin Murray in 2001. He started his career as a commodity broker on the coco futures market in the City and at the time was the youngest trader on the floor to trade under supervision.
Since setting up the Millbay Road headquartered business it has grown dramatically and now employs more than 170 people and turns over in excess of £60million annually.
47.(52) :PENDENNIS SHIPYARD (HOLDINGS) LIMITED, Falmouth, Cornwall
Pendennis Shipyard specialises in building and refitting luxury sail and motor yachts.Its recent projects include work on £26million 144ft yacht Megan and Steel, a £24million 180ft ice-class expedition yacht originally built by Pendennis in 2009.
The 139ft luxury sailing yacht Rebecca, which is owned by Texan billionaire Charles Butt and has a price tag of almost £14million, arrived from the Azores to the shipyard in April.
48. (57): ALLEN & HEATH LIMITED, Penryn, Cornwall
Allen & Heath is a leading designer and manufacturer of mixing desks for live sound, permanent installation, DJs, broadcast and recording studios.
Allen & Heath was in the vanguard of the first wave of great British mixer companies, starting life at the heart of London’s swinging music scene in 1969, hand-building mixers for the top bands of the era, including Genesis, Pink Floyd and The Who.
Now, its range is used on tour by Lewis Capaldi, Bring Me the Horizon and Billie Eilish.
49. (49): DCM (CORNWALL) LIMITED, Redruth, Cornwall
The company behind the Dales Group new and used car dealership in Cornwall.
Dales Cornwall has been selling and servicing cars in Cornwall for over 60 years and operates main dealership franchises for Renault, Dacia, SEAT, Suzuki and Vauxhall.
50. LANDMARK INFORMATION GROUP LIMITED, Exeter, Devon
With offices in Exeter, Reading and Brighton, Landmark offers legal products and data supply to the UK’s property market. It is owned by DMGT, which has a portfolio of property data services including Searchflow – at number 43 – Argyll & OchreSoft.
Here is the full Top150 list