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Britain’s mid-market business leaders honoured

Owners and directors of Britain’s leading mid-market private companies with the biggest sales celebrated on Thursday night (14 October) at the sixth annual Sunday Times HSBC Top Track 250 awards dinner, held at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel in London.

Now in its sixth year, the league table ranks Britain’s 250 leading mid-market private companies by sales. They represent the next tier down from the Top Track 100 private companies with the biggest sales, provided they have either increased sales or operating profit in their latest available accounts.

More than 190 guests attended the dinner, including founders and senior directors from well-known companies such as Poundland, Pret A Manger, Virgin Active, Harrods, Dreams, bet365, Caffe Nero, Gatwick Airport, Jeyes and Harvey Nichols. Guests were welcomed by Stuart Grant, Head of Corporate and Structured Banking, UK, at HSBC, the title sponsor of the league table, and David Maxwell, a partner and member of the National Leadership Board at Grant Thornton, sponsoring the league table for the first time this year.

Guest speeches

Guests heard speeches from Larry Billett, chairman of Pret A Manger and a former investment banker, and Charles Gurassa, portfolio non-executive chairman of companies including LOVEFiLM.com and Phones 4u.

Larry Billet talked about how learning from mistakes is central to the culture at Pret A Manger, emphasising that the ability to adapt is key to a company’s success. He also focused on how customer experience should be the cornerstone of every business. Charles Gurassa spoke of the crucial need to offer good value or a ‘must-have’ product during a downturn and encouraged companies to capitalise on the opportunities the recession presented. He told guests how the need for greater fiscal discipline had encouraged operational excellence.

Biggest mid-market private company award

The Top Track 250 award for the leading mid-market UK private company with the biggest sales was presented by Dominic O’Connell, business editor of The Sunday Times, to Joe Morris of TJ Morris. The family-owned discount retailer offers a wide range of branded products, and opened 35 stores in the last year bringing the total to 220 shops across Britain. The company’s sales reached £590m this year.