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East Midlands Chamber News

East Midlands Top 500 Companies Index 2021: See who topped the list

The contribution businesses across the region make to UK plc has been spelled out in detail in this year’s East Midlands Top 500 Companies.

The full list – which ranks the region’s top businesses by turnover – was published today compiled using data from Companies House. Combined, the companies have a turnover of £94bn and employ more than 455,000 people.

Business website Business Live has been counting down the companies from 500 to the top number one spot and hosted an online webinar at which business leaders will discuss the trends and opportunities captured by the list.

The research, compiled by academics from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU), the University of Derby and Nottingham Trent University, and sponsored by Bradgate Estates, allows us to see the range and strength of firms across the three counties.

The top 20 firms are national and international players, which support tens of thousands of jobs and pump billions into the economy. For the first time this year, all 20 have turnovers of more than £1bn.

Boots is number one in East Midlands Top 500 Companies Index

Just like last year, Nottingham-based Boots UK remains in the number one position with annual revenues of £6.8bn.

Next comes Leicester-based luxury car dealer group Sytner, following by Barratt Developments in Coalville, the Notts-based Pendragon car dealer group and Leicestershire retailer Next PLC.

This year Sports Direct and Toyota both jump one place to six and seven respectively, while Derby’s Rolls-Royce drops from sixth to 17.

Read the full East Midlands Top 500 Companies list here

As well as the Top 500, the research team looks at the changes that have been made in the region’s biggest sectors such as manufacturing, logistics, technology and retail, as well as emerging niches.

Professor David Rae, of DMU’s Leicester Castle Business School, who leads the project, said: “There are a few changes at the top of the list, but 55 new firms have joined it and the same number dropped out.

"It is interesting to see who these growing firms are. We also look at changes in the major business sectors in the region, compared with the first East Midlands Top 500 published in 2020. The index is becoming a valuable baseline for economic recovery from the pandemic.”

East Midlands Chamber contributes to East Midlands Top 500 Companies Index

Following publication of last year’s inaugural Top 500, DMU collaborated with East Midlands Chamber to improve available intelligence about the region’s businesses, which could ultimately promote investment opportunities.

Scott Knowles, chief executive of East Midlands Chamber, said: “The East Midlands is the engine room of the UK’s economy.

"The East Midlands Top 500 Businesses Index sets this out in vivid detail, showcasing the huge contribution our region makes to UK Plc and the strength and depth of our business community.

"It’s the second listing of its kind and while many of the top positions remain stable, it’s interesting to observe which companies have climbed the table and those that have fallen.”

Anthony Parker, finance director of sponsor Bradgate Estate, added: “Local universities are creating business leaders of tomorrow and this initiative shines a light on some of your region’s success stories... ‘from little acorns great oak trees can grow’.

"This is our way of encouraging inter-regional and company dialogue, and closing the gaps between the region’s businesses with our excellent academic sector, local councils, and the East Midlands Chamber to enhance the economic prospects for all in the region.”

As the index is based on company accounts, it inevitably lags current company performance by around two years, since companies have up to nine months after their year-end to file their accounts.

It covers the period from June 2018 to June 2019, just six months before the first case of coronavirus was reported in Wuhan, China, and before Article 50 triggered the UK’s official withdrawal from the European Union.

It excludes public sector organisations and businesses with operations in the East Midlands that are subsidiaries, or have their registered offices elsewhere.

The East Midlands Top 500 team are: DMU: Dr Rachel English, Professor David Rae and doctoral researchers Deji Olagboye and Zenas Azuma; University of Derby: Alexandra Charles; Nottingham Trent University: Dr Will Rossiter.

Read the full East Midlands Top 500 Companies index here.

Top 30 businesses in the East Midlands


(2020 position)




1 (1)

Boots UK Ltd



2 (2)

Sytner Group Ltd



3 (3)

Barratt Developments plc



4 (4)

Pendragon plc



5 (5)

Next plc



6 (7)

Sports Direct International plc



7 (8)

Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd



8 (9)

Eco-Bat Technologies Ltd



9 (12)

Bloor Investments Ltd



10 (11)

Amalgamated Holdings Wilkinson Ltd



11 (13)

Greencore Group



12 (14)

Aggregate Industries UK Ltd



13 (21)

Bombardier Transportation UK Ltd



14 (N/A)

Boots Management Services Ltd



15 (19)

Staffline Group plc



16 (22)

Caterpillar (UK) Ltd



17 (6)

Rolls-Royce plc



18 (16)

Dunelm Group plc



19 (15)

Samworth Brothers (Holdings) Ltd



20 (18)

Motorpoint Group plc



21 (N/A)

Miller Homes Group Ltd



22 (20)

Bowmer and Kirkland Ltd



23 (23)

Langley Holdings plc



24 (24)

Experian Ltd



25 (25)

Watches of Switzerland Company Ltd



26 (26)

Capital One (Europe) plc



27 (52)

Vaillant Group UK Ltd/Vaillant Industrial UK Ltd



28 (32)

Avant Homes Group Ltd



29 (30)

Center Parcs (Holdings) Ltd



30 (29)

Porterbook Holdings Ltd




East Midlands Top 500 Companies index key findings

The 500 companies in the 2021 index reported a combined turnover of £94.37bn turnover, a 1.48% increase on the £92.97bn figure last year. The number of employees is also up from 454,682 to 455,657 – a 0.22% rise.

There were 55 new entrants to this year’s listing, primarily due to firms increasing their turnover above the threshold, along with some examples of changes in corporate structure and registered office moves into the region making them newly eligible.

One of these was Miller Homes Group’s move to Derby, springing it into the top 30 businesses for the first time, while corporate structure and reporting location changes were also the reason for Rolls-Royce’s drop from sixth to 17th and Steris Solutions Ltd’s fall from 10th to 379th.

The top 10 consists of four retailers, three automotive manufacturers and retailers, two housebuilders and one manufacturer, but the 11-30 groups has a much wider range of activities.

Manufacturing is the most prevalent sector across the Top 500, with 158 companies employing 98,571 people and a combined turnover of £22.98bn.

By revenue, this is followed by retail trade (£20.35bn), motor vehicle trade (£15.33bn), construction (£10.51bn), business support services (£3.9bn) and wholesale trade (£3.87bn).

Celebrating the success of our region

By Scott Knowles, chief executive of East Midlands Chamber

After a year and a half that has presented unprecedented challenges for businesses across a whole host of sectors, it’s vitally important to take stock and celebrate success.

We’re lucky to have so many great businesses on our doorstep, packed with household-name brands and many others that may not be so familiar to the average person on the street but are titans of their industries.

It’s long been recognised the East Midlands is the engine room of the UK’s economy – a manufacturing powerhouse, a hotbed of innovation, and a logistics hub that can put the region at the centre of Britain’s post-Brexit global trading relationships.

None of this has changed as a result of the pandemic and it’s perhaps more crucial than ever to do something where we often fall short – shout about what we’ve got loudly and with a united voice – because we have an amazing story to tell.

The East Midlands Top 500 Businesses Index sets this out in vivid detail, showcasing the huge contribution our region makes to UK Plc and the strength in depth of our business community.

It’s the second listing of its kind and while many of the top positions remain stable, it’s interesting to observe which companies have climbed the table and those that have fallen.

While eyes will initially doubt be drawn to the high-profile businesses, looking down the list makes it clear that there’s a wide variety of smaller companies that also make our economy tick.

It also demonstrates the strength of the supply chain we have established in the region, one that is increasingly becoming interconnected – while providing much of the employment, skills and innovation this region has built its reputation on.