seven food and hospitality brands owned by Westbury Street Holdings, founded by chairman Alastair Storey.
While Benugo closed during lockdown, contract caterer BaxterStorey stayed open to support essential workers. It also helped provide more than 40,000 free meals a day to the NHS.
The top group for sales figures in the Solent region was also related to the aircraft industry – with the Dorset-based aerospace and defence company Cobham gaining a top 30 place in the UK Top Track 100 table after reporting sales of some £2b in the past year.
Headquartered at Christchurch with eight other sites in the UK and many others around the world, Cobham employed over 10,000 staff. It made the news by adapting one of its fighter aircraft oxygen regulators for the UK Ventilator Challenge when the coronavirus hit.
Led by chairman Shonnel Malani, the company was listed on the London Stock Exchange until January when it was bought by Advent, an American private equity firm, in a £4b deal.
A world leader in air-to-air refuelling hardware, space technology and
specialist military training, it has more than 10,000 staff. It sold its Axell Wireless division to Rcapital in June for an undisclosed sum.
Poole-based Merlin Entertainments, which owns Alton Towers and Madame Tussauds, gained second place in the regional table (36th in UK) after returning sales of £1.7b in the last year.
The group tapped bond investors for £445m in April, having closed most of its 130 attractions worldwide just months after a consortium led by the Danish owners of Lego took it private in a £6b deal.
Employing some 21,000 people and led by chief executive Nick Varney, Merlin entertained a combined 67 million visitors in 2019, making it the world’s second-largest attraction operator after Disney. It began reopening its UK sites on June 6, including the garden at Warwick Castle.
The Weymouth-based New Look group (3rd in Solent area and 53rd in UK) began 2020 with a new chief executive amid major changes at the fashion chain. Former House of Fraser and The Range chief executive Nigel Oddy is now at the helm, with Alistair McGeorge stepping into a non-executive chairman role. This was after he closed 100 stores, retreated from
andmarketing print from one of the UK’s leading environmental printers.
China and agreed a debt-for-equity swap with key bondholders to cut its long-term debt from £1.3b to £350m.
The group, which had over 15,500 staff, shut all of its stores in March to trade solely online, but began reopening them in June. Its position in the Top Track table comes via total sales of £1.22b in the year to March.
Winchester-based Arqiva is the only one of the four Solent representatives to have made the Top Track table in 2019. In the last accounts, sales of about £1b earned 73rd place nationally.
With a staff of over 2,000 the group supplies the infrastructure behind television, radio, satellite and wireless communications for customers including the BBC, ITV and Sky. Led by chief executive Paul Donovan, it is the only provider of national terrestrial television and radio broadcasting services in the UK.
Since April it has waived fees to small commercial radio stations to help them survive. It is currently selling its telecoms division, including 8,000 masts, to Spanish giant Cellnex for £2b.
The Top Track tables are compiled by Oxford-based Fast Track, published in The Sunday Times and sponsored by HSBC and Linklaters.
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THE BUSINESS MAGAZINE – SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2020
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