Law firm earns slot in top 100

New structure: Regional managing partner Paul Firth, left and group chief executive John Pickering
New structure: Regional managing partner Paul Firth, left and group chief executive John Pickering
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Irwin Mitchell has become the first law firm to secure a place among the Sheffield region’s top companies in the annual rankings published by Star Business and leading independent accountancy firm Barber Harrison & Platt.

The Sheffield-based firm qualified for inclusion after changing its business structure, in response to the introduction of the Legal Services Act.

It has become the most successful newcomer, going straight into 19th place in the Top 100, which ranks companies by turnover.

What’s more, the company has secured top place as the most profitable company in the annual analysis.

Despite tough times and talk of a double dip recession, companies in the Star Business/Barber Harrison & Platt Top 100 increase total sales by £1.8 billion, compared with last year and reduced total losses.

The latest Top 100 also shows a welcome degree of stability in terms of membership. Eighty seven companies in this year’s table were in last year’s Top 100 and seven are returnees, leaving just six total newcomers in this year’s rankings.

When it comes to the top of the table, nine companies have retained their position in the top 10 and 19 in the top 20.

However, six companies in the top ten and nine out of the top 20 have recorded losses in the period covered by this year’s Top 100.

SIG, the Sheffield-based, leading European supplier of insulating materials and specialist building products, continues to top the turnover table – as it has done now for almost a decade.

The business, which was also the most profitable Top 100 company for many of those years, has suffered from the construction downturn, exacerbated by bad weather in recent years and recorded losses in this year’s and last year’s Top 100.

However, figures released since the cut off date for this year’s Top 100 show a return to profit, increased sales and a reduction in net debt from £185.0 million to £115.9 million, helped in part by the proceeds from selling its UK safety and workwear, scaffolding and interiors manufacturing businesses.

Chief executive Chris Davies says SIG entered 2012 as a much leaner, stronger and more focused organisation, and has continued to outperform the market, operationally, while improving gross margins and securing additional efficiency savings.

After two years of losses, second-placed Outokumpu is back in profit.