Companies benefit from calm after storm

Newcomer: Xtratherm's Chesterfield headquarters
Newcomer: Xtratherm's Chesterfield headquarters
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Things have settled down following a major shake up which meant almost a fifth of the companies in last year’s Top 100 were newcomers.

This year, less than a 10th are total newcomers – led by Sheffield-based national law firm Irwin Mitchell, which is also Sheffield and the surrounding region’s most profitable company.

Irwin Mitchell’s arrival in the Top 100 is a direct result of the major changes in the ways legal businesses can be structured.

The introduction of the Legal Services Act inspired the firm to pursue the new alternative business model for lawyers, which allows external investment and non-lawyers to have an executive role within the business.

As a result, the company won an award for its innovative corporate strategy at the annual FT Innovative Lawyers’ awards, when judges named it an industry pioneer and “one of the most groundbreaking, best-known law firms in the UK.”

Corporate changes at the firm also mean that it is now also eligible for inclusion in the Top 100.

Sheet metal fabricator Primary Alloys boosted its turnover by 180 per cent to secure its place in the Top 100 and become the second Sheffield-based newcomer.

Chesterfield scores high in the newcomers stakes, with no fewer than three companies – Avanti GAS, Mallinckrodt Medical Holdings and Xtratherm – joining the rankings for the first time.

Chesterfield-based Avanti GAS was previously registered in London and known as Shell Gas. The company operates throughout the UK, providing Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) for homes, businesses and vehicles and has gone in to the table of Chesterfield’s ten most profitable companies, in addition to securing 23rd place in the Top 100 turnover-based listing.

Staveley-based Mallinckrodt Medical Holdings is part of pharmaceutical, chemical, imaging, and respiratory equipment business Covidien Holdings and has gone straight in to become Chesterfield’s third most profitable company.

Xtratherm’s arrival in the Top 100 comes a year and a half after the UK manufacturing arm of the Irish group Leanort acquired its £12 million factory and offices in Holmewood, Chesterfield, with the backing of Santander’s corporate banking team in Sheffield.

The company supplies a range of insulation product and develops materials used in low- and zero-carbon buildings.

The Chesterfield plant is Xtratherm’s main manufacturing and distribution centre in the UK and also supplies insulation to continental Europe.

Last of the newcomers is Black Cat Bidco, the holding company for Doncaster-based, leading high quality fitted kitchens and furniture manufacturer Omega, which operates from a 315,000 sq ft, purpose-built complex close to the M18 at Thorne, near Doncaster.

The factory boasts computer-aided design and computer controlled manufacturing facilities and supplies specialist kitchen outlets across the UK.

Proact IT UK isn’t exactly a newcomer. It secures its place in the Top 100 following the acquisition of Chesterfield-based B2Net by parent group Proact IT Group, which is listed on Nasdaq OMX stock exchange in Stockholm.

Proact lays claim to being Europe’s “leading Independent storage integrator and cloud services enabler,” while B2net, which was founded in 2000, describes itself as a vendor-independent storage integrator, helping companies to reduce the operating costs and simplify the management of data storage and provide disaster recovery, business continuance, email archiving and file lifecycle management services.

B2Net joined the Top 100 in 2010 and was placed 74th last year. Five companies have returned to the Top 100 - Van Dalen UK Holdings, Kuusakoski, Solpro Manufacturing, Wildgoose Construction and Westbrook Holdings.

Leading metals recycler Van Dalen opened its Grange Mill Lane site in Sheffield seven years ago, since when it has invested a total of £10 million, including a recent investment of £4.5 million in a new shredder to process ferrous scrap and £2.2 million in a non-ferrous facility.

Van Dalen occupied a place in the Top 100 table from 2008 to 2010, but slipped out last year, when turnover was particularly low. A 97 per cent increase, bringing turnover back in line with previous levels, has restored the company to the table.

Sheffield-based precious metals group Solpro previously appeared in the table in 2008 and 2010 and comes back in 87th position following a 46 per cent increase in turnover, while Chesterfield-based Wildgoose Construction – last listed in 2009 – is back after increasing turnover by 52 per cent.

Dronfield-based newcomer ferro-alloy metal supplier holdings company Westbrook first appeared in the Top 100 in 2010 and is back again after increasing its turnover by 32 per cent.