Benfield motor up the Sunday Times Grant Thornton Top Track 250

Benfield motor group have soared to number three in a Sunday Times league table

Mark Squires, chief executive of Benfield Motor Group, outside the new £7 million Audi dealership on Scotswood Road, Newcastle
Mark Squires, chief executive of Benfield Motor Group, outside the new £7 million Audi dealership on Scotswood Road, Newcastle

The region’s largest motor group Benfield is the highest placed North East company to appear on the latest Sunday Times business listing.

The Grant Thornton Top Track 250 – published in full this weekend – ranks Britain’s leading private mid-market companies with the biggest sales, taken from their latest available accounts.

Newcastle-headquartered Benfield leads the way for the North East at number three, rising from 16 the previous year, with sales of £622m in the year to December 2013.

The independently-owned family business was founded in Newcastle in 1957 by John Squires Senior and developed by John Squires Jnr, the present chairman, and operates 30 retail outlets throughout the North East of England, Yorkshire, Cumbria and South West Scotland across a portfolio 12 car retail brands.

The league table complements the Sunday Times Top Track 100 league table of Britain’s private companies with the biggest sale.

The Grant Thornton table lists all companies which increased sales or profits by at least 10% year-on-year, achieving combined sales of £8.5bn and employing more than 45,000 people.

Mark Squires, chief executive of Benfield Group said: “We are again delighted to be flying the flag for the North East’s privately-owned businesses in the top 250 league table.

“It is vital the region’s businesses continue to work together for the good of the region and its economy. It is also particularly pleasing therefore to see several other leading North East businesses prominently placed in this high profile listing.”

This year’s list features 33 companies headquartered in the North East and Yorkshire, a lift on the 28 last year, six of which are from the North East.

There are also 17 entrants that were not on the league table last year, including Newcastle-based radiator and boiler manufacturer Ideal Stelrad, in at number 64, and South Shields clothing brand Barbour, at number 221, where sales grew 11% to £152m in 2013.

Newcastle-based British Engines, which employs 1,173, comes in at 215th with sales of £156.3m and profits of £20.3m.

NVM backed Kitwave wholesale group, based in North Shields, increases its position from 210 to 158, having achieved profit of £3.8m on sales of £193.1m, and Sunderland sofa firm ScS also improves its standing, from 133 to 109 with turnover of £245.6m and profits of £6.9m.

Nas Khan’s motor dealership business Jennings, headquartered in Washington, also features at number 240, with sales of £145.9m and profits of £1.3m.

The Grant Thornton Top Track 250 league table and awards programme is sponsored by Grant Thornton and Barclays, and compiled by Fast Track, the Oxford-based research and networking events company.

Will Oxley, practice leader for Leeds and Newcastle offices at Grant Thornton UK LLP, the title sponsor of the league table, praised the companies for their performance:

He said: “These mid-sized businesses are such an integral part of the UK economy. They continue to thrive and grow, often on an international stage and their achievements are rightly celebrated here in the Top Track 250.

“We listen carefully to them about the barriers, challenges and opportunities that they see and, through our “Agents of Growth” campaign, champion policy changes that will help. We think this dynamic segment of the market is starting to find a voice and is being heard.”

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