Top 50 Employee Owned Companies in 2020

RM2 does the research for the Employee Ownership Top 50, a list of the largest 50 private employee-owned companies in the UK which has been prepared annually since 2014. RM2 publishes the list in a partnership with the Employee Ownership Association (EOA).

Key findings:

By tracking the changes in the Top 50 list year-on-year, we get an insight into the performance of the largest employee-owned companies in the UK – how much they have grown, how profitable they are, which trade sectors they operate in, and what legal forms they take.

This year, the list has five new entrants, including Greenwich Leisure Ltd, an employee-controlled charitable social enterprise with over 10,000 employees which runs local authority leisure centres nationwide under the “better” brand.

Three of the five new entrants are Employee Ownership Trusts (EOTs), bringing the total number of EOTs on the list to 13. We expect that number to increase as EOTs continue to be a popular and flexible succession solution for owners of private companies. We know from our parallel work on the EOT Survey that the number of Employee Ownership Trusts is increasing at a rate of 40% per annum. There were around 340 EOT-owned companies by the middle of May 2020, but most are not big enough for inclusion in the Top 50.

So the shape of the sector is changing. The Top 50 represent a smaller proportion of total population of employee-owned companies, and there continues to be a great deal of growth and new EOT activity “below the radar”.

Key facts for 2020:

  • There are five new entrants: Greenwich Leisure, Seetec Business Technology Centre, Gemporia Partnership, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris and First Community Health & Care.
  • Combined sales for the Top 50 is £20.1 billion, which is up 4.3% on a like-for-like basis.
  • Total employees for the Top 50 is 178,000 which is up 1.0% on a like-for-like basis.
  • The median change in operating profit for the Top 50 is plus 5.0%.
  • The mean increase in productivity, defined as value added per employee, is 6.9% on a like-for-like basis.
  • 66% of the companies in the Top 50 have no debt.
  • The number of employees needed to qualify for inclusion in the Top 50 has gone down slightly to 378. Last year it was 403. In 2014, when the Top 50 list was first published, it was 143.
  • “like for like” means that we compare each of the 50 companies on this year’s list against its own prior year results only if it appeared on last year’s list. This is to avoid new entrants distorting the comparisons.

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