Big climbers and new entries are the pepper in the Top 200 stew

This year's Top 200, exclusive to The Journal on October 22, will certainly have big climbers and new entries

The Top 200, 2014
The Top 200, 2014

Big climbers and new entries are the pepper in the Top 200 stew. They give the North East list of leading firms a piquancy that’s irresistible to anyone keen to see firms of our region progress – and who doesn’t?

Notable climbers such as Redcar steelmaker SSI (up 33 places to 10th) and Sunderland security group Opec (up 45 places to 117th) were among 19 companies that added flavour to last year’s North East Top 200. And new entries like Stocksfield’s IHC Engineering, which (significantly) has just completed two pipe-lay contracts, and CJ Leonard & Sons, the Guisborough supplier of commercial vehicles and plant (in at 116th and 158th respectively), also contributed to last year’s tang.

Sometimes new entries are a re-appearance of firms that had been out of the list for some time and therefore signal a major pick-up in business - again something the region can appreciate.

This year’s Top 200, exclusive to The Journal on October 22 – the day following a launch breakfast - will certainly have big climbers and new entries. Compilation of this year’s list by Newcastle University Business School and PwC in the North East – The Journal’s partners in this enterprise - is still under way. But we already know of companies whose recent performances may gain them prestige this year.

Kitwave One, the North Shields wholesale and distribution group heavily into serial acquisition, rose 20 places to 46th last year, and has now acquired the entire issued share capital of Teatime Tasties and TG Foods, a Manchester cash and carry. Teatime Tasties, selling tobacco, alcohol, confectionery and soft drinks from warehouses across the North and the Midlands, was bought with backing from NVM Private Equity.

Huddersfield-based Teatime Tasties was founded in 2000, and had a smaller cash and carry operation in – yes, Manchester. Paul Young, group managing director at Kitwave, has completed seven other buy-ups, including Eden Farm at Peterlee earlier this year.


In construction and infrastructure, watch out for further advances by Metnor and Banks Groups. Metnor, the Killingworth property and construction services operation, has completed two property developments recently, a care home and student accommodation. It had already jumped 33 places to 162 last year.

Banks, the Durham mining and development company (91st last year, 21 places up) is now mining in West Lothian and has planning consent for a Northumbrian project, and it will be one to watch this time round.

A notable performer this year may also be DE Group of Prudhoe, one of the UK’s biggest pharmaceutical wholesalers. It is targeting £196m turnover in three years following a management buy-out by two of its directors in one of the biggest deals of the North East healthcare sector for some years last October.

Managing director Mark Gulliford and finance director Andy Wilson secured the deal and are now targeting double-digit growth over each of the next three years to speed the company’s already rapid progress. Gulliford has been with DE Group for 22 years, including a previous spell as owner.

DE Group claims to be the only short-line wholesaler with distribution centres across the UK. It operates from 11 sites in the UK and Ireland. It has grown significantly in recent years through an earlier acquisition of Doncaster Pharmaceuticals, and has also enjoyed good organic growth in a market where generic medicines account for more than 70% of all prescriptions.

The group includes National Generics in the Midlands, Eclipse Generics in Scotland and Crosspharma Pharmaceuticals in Northern Ireland. It employs 300 people and supplies to more than 4,500 pharmacies.

Newcastle law firm Sintons oversaw the deal, funding for which was provided by RBS Invoice Finance, structuring a £37m asset-based lending (ABL) package. Christopher Welch, of Sintons, described the transaction at the time as “one of the most significant deals in the region’s healthcare sector for several years”.

It could be significant in the Top 200 too.

Passionate about helping local business

Roger Whiteside, chief executive of Greggs
Roger Whiteside, chief executive of Greggs

Roger Whiteside, chief executive officer of Greggs, which is sponsoring the highest new entry category in this year’s Top 200, says the awards made to outstanding performers in the list give Greggs the opportunity to recognise publicly the commercial success stories of the region. 

“It is encouraging to see new businesses not only launch but thrive,” he declares. “And we are delighted to sponsor the new entry category as we celebrate turning 75 years young.”

He explains: “The genuine spirit, warmth and good humour of the North East underpins everything Greggs stands for, making it not only a much-loved and trusted brand but a fantastic business to work for and do business with. 

 “At Greggs we are as passionate about helping local business communities as we are about the quality of our products,” he adds.  “That’s why we support local suppliers where possible, work with BITC to run business connector programmes and operate a graduate scheme.”


Companies must have their latest full-year results at Companies House before the end of this month to be considered for inclusion in the North East Top 200.

Top 200 breakfast

The Top 200 awards breakfast will be at The Stadium of Light, Sunderland, SR5 1SU on Tuesday, October 21, from 7.30am-10.30am.

To reserve tables or tickets at the business awards breakfast where Top 200 presentations will be made - or for any further information - contact Abbi Aitken, events manager, on telephone 0191 201 6166 or email

Tables of 10 are available at £300 plus VAT and individual tickets are available at £35 each plus VAT.

The package includes the awards presentations, refreshments, full English breakfast, networking and Question and Answer panel to discuss the impact of the result of the Scottish referendum.



David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer