Part 4 of the Business & Finance 100 released

Business, Business & Finance 100, Business & Finance Awards, Top 50/100 Listings | Tue 11 Dec | Author – Business & Finance

Business & Finance release the ‘100 Most Outstanding Irish Companies of 2018’, an index of Ireland’s best performing, most innovative, and fastest growing companies which will be celebrated as part of the 2018 Business & Finance awards on Thursday, December 13th at the Convention Centre, Dublin.

The full Index will be published in the next edition of the Business & Finance Quarterly Review in mid-December.

Part 1Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4




Fashion retailer Primark operates over 350 stores in 11 countries — the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, France, Italy and the US. Founded by Arthur Ryan in June 1969, the company’s first store on 47 Mary Street, Dublin, remains operative to this day. The company is a subsidiary of Associated British Foods and is headed up by CEO Paul Marchant, accounting for about half of AB Foods’ revenue and profit. More Primark stores are planned for the US as strong growth in the market boosted full-year group profit. Next year it will open a store in Ljubljana, Slovenia, taking Primark to its 12th country. It has also signed a lease for its first store in Poland, in Warsaw. 

Providence Resources


The Irish oil and gas exploration firm, helmed by Chief Executive Tony O’Reilly, was established in 1997 but traces its history back to Atlantic Resources plc which was formed in 1981. The group’s remit previously held Ireland as its sole focus for offshore assets. However, in November 2018, Tony O’Reilly confirmed the group’s interest in overseas investment in exploration opportunities in international waters.



Perhaps Ireland’s best-known company, the low-cost airline has enjoyed a rough and tumble 2018. In October, the airline announced 15 new routes despite what the firm’s chief marketing officer called the “worst-summer ever” following the increased stakes of a no-deal Brexit and a number of strikes by staff. The year also saw Ryanair announce a 20% reduction in the size of its Dublin-based fleet, from which some aircraft will be re-allocated to markets like Poland where the company is “enjoying strong growth”. Nonetheless, Ryanair maintains its strong financials – reporting a full-year profit of €1.45 billion in the twelve months to March 2018, and the carrier now offers over 2,400 daily flights, with a staff of 14,500 operating in 37 countries across 88 bases.

Shorla Pharma


Shorla Pharma is a female-led healthcare company that develops innovative, high barrier to entry pharmaceutical therapies with a particular interest in women’s and paediatric health. It was co-founded by Orlaith O’Brien and Sharon Cunningham, who both formerly held senior management roles in EirGen Pharma. Shorla Pharma were part of the 2018 Irish delegation to the SelectUSA investment summit held in Washington DC.

SISK Group


Founded 159 years ago in Cork, SISK Group has expanded from local builder to international construction giant. Though it’s primary focus is construction, the group’s portfolio includes Consumer Products, Property, and other investments in Ireland, Europe, and the Middle East. Despite a drop in turnover of 15 per cent in 2017, SISK reported a marked increase in profitability as pre-tax profits increased from €10.3 million to €26.8 million. In particular, its Irish operations saw growth in its data centre, life science, pharmaceutical and retail activities. According to its most recent accounts, ”the business has a strong order book for 2018 with a good line of sight into 2019.”

Smurfit Kappa Group


A world leader in paper-based packaging with approximately $8.5 billion in global sales, Smurfit Kappa employs over 43,000 people globally, across 35 countries, and owns multiple recycling and manufacturing operations. Jefferson Smurfit group became Smurfit Kappa after the 2005 merger with Kappa Packaging. Group CEO Tony Smurfit oversees global operations and in most recent results Smurfit Kappa Group delivered significant improvement against key performance measures in the results for the 3 months and 6 months ending 30 June 2018, which were announced at the end of August.

With an increase in EBITDA of over 27% to €724 million and an EBITDA margin of 16.4% first half performance reflects the quality of its assets, geographic reach and market positions.

Smyths Toys


The Irish toy retailer is set to go international. Following an aggressive UK expansion, in 2018 the firm announced a €79 million European deal which will see Smyths acquire the 93-strong central European division of Toys R Us. Run by the Connaught-based Smyth family, the Irish retail chain now ranks among Europe’s biggest toy sellers. During its UK enlargement, Smyths launched more than 80 stores in just 10 years, stealing a march on British competition; in 2017, UK sales soared 11 per cent, topping out at over €500 million.

SSE Airtricity


The wind farm developer, founded over 20 years ago and now employing 750, is Ireland’s market-leading supplier of renewable energy. Its operations span 26 wind farms (including Ireland’s largest – Galway Wind Park), and a number of Power Purchase Agreements with third party wind and solar operators. Since 2008, The company has invested €2.5 billion in low-carbon energy infrastructure in Ireland. While the firm reported a dip in profits of 22.5 per cent in the year to end of March 2018, its renewable portfolio continues to grow, including four new wind farms in the past two years.

Stafford Group


Helmed by Group CEO, Mark Stafford, the family-run firm has existed since 1891 with activities ranging from sports retail, fuel, and shipping. Its chief subsidiary, Life Style Sports, boasts sales in excess of €100 million. In 2016, the retailer opened a 6,000 square feet flagship store on Dublin’s Grafton Street. Stafford Group’s overall revenue decreased to €276 million in 2017, as the group underwent internal restructuring. In recent years, Mark Stafford, who took the reins in 2004, is said to harbour ambitions to expand Life Styles Sports’ reach into Europe.



Kerry company Taxamo, which offers an international VAT payment service for ecommerce companies that sell digital products, was founded by John McCarthy, son of Fexco founder Brian McCarthy. Their business is based on assuming the VAT liability for global companies selling digital products. It was among the first tranche of companies names as verified partners by Stripe in 2018, alongside names like Sage, Intercom and Shopify.

Tedcastle/ Top Oil


Top Oil and Tedcastle McCormick was founded in 1800 by Robert Tedcastle to import and distribute coal in the city of Dublin.

Today the Tedcastle Group of companies include Top – fuel importers and distributors, Top Kelly Fuels – an oil and coal importer and distributor in Northern Ireland, Bruce Lindsay, Tedcastle Aviation Fuels (TAF), and Tedcastle Properties, who look after group property interests in Ireland and the UK.

Total Produce


A spin-out from Fyffes, chaired by Carl McCann, with a turnover in excess of €3.5 billion, Total Produce is one of the world’s largest fresh produce providers, and operates out of 39 countries while serving many more. Its industry leading vertically integrated supply chain extends across the globe incorporating over 260 facilities including farms, vessels, manufacturing facilities, cold storage warehousing and packhouses.

Transfermate Global Payments


Co-founded by Terry Clune of Taxback Group, and Sinead Fitzmaurice, in 2010, Transfermate, the world’s leading cross-border B2B payments provider, is now part-owned by ING Group N.V., one of Europe’s leading banks (which invested €21m) and AIB, which invested €30m for a minority equity stake and agreed a strategic partnership. It is licensed across Europe, India, Australia and all US States.

UDG Healthcare


UDG Healthcare plc, formerly United Drug, is a Dublin-based international company and partner to the healthcare industry, providing clinical, commercial, communication and packaging services. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange, and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.The company was established in Ballina in County Mayo as The United Drug Chemical Company, a co-operative controlled by Irish pharmacists, in 1948.

The group operates in 24 countries with 9,000 employees globally.



The medical supplies specialist took a nostep closer to IPO following its acquisition of Sisk Healthcare in April in a deal estimated to be worth €100 million, the company’s fourth and largest acquisition in the last 18 months. The drug wholesaler, Ireland’s largest, is comprised of two divisions: Manufacturer Services and Retail Services (including the Life and Allcare pharmacy chains), with an annual turnover of €1.3 billion. In November 2018, The Times reported that the group was preparing to acquire the Bradley’s Pharmacy chain of 20 stores.



Fibre broadband specialist Viatel was founded in1991 by Martin Varsavsky. The Dublin firm has expanded into data centre hosting, built fibre networks, and – recently – developed its new flexi cloud service. In 2015, Zayo Group, an American communications telecom, acquired Viatel’s non-Irish fibre network for €95 million in cash. Former Microsoft Europe chief Paul Rellis was appointed as the new CEO of Viatel and Digiweb Group in March 2018, with Viatel since pressing forward with its cloud and connectivity services including a data centre deal with Kingston Technology valued at €1.4 millions, and a partnership with broadband wholesaler SIRO.


Business Services

What if businesses could outsource customer support in any language? That’s the premise of Cork-based Voxpro who boast a client book ranging from Airbnb to Google. Starting out with just 6 employees in an office wedged above a Cork pub, Voxpro is now a customer experience giant staffed by 5,000 global employees. In October, the company announced a major recruitment drive in Cork, creating 400 jobs amidst plans to scale global operations over the coming 18 months. Previously, in 2016, CEO Dan Kiely has mooted the prospect of an IPO once revenue reaches €100 million.



A heavyweight in electronic recycling such as data destruction, WiseTek began life in a hotel room, founded by former EMC employee Sean Sheehan. The group now employs 350, specialising in IT asset disposal (ITAD) services and courting clients such as Dell EMC, VCE, and McAfee. In 2017, Wisetek merged its US operations with those of DataKillers. The introduction of GDPR has proved a boon for the company, with the group reporting in October 2018 that overall group turnover had increased 67% on the back of American expansion and increased data security requirements such as GDPR.

Zenith Technologies


Zenith reported sales of €85 million in 2018, setting a course to top €100 million in 2019. The Life Sciences software provider offers a range of services across automation, MES, and digital solutions for manufacturing in the Pharma and BioTech sectors. Zenith now also employ800, with operations spanning 16 offices across Europe, Asia, and North America. Recently, the Cork-headquartered company announced a partnership with US corporate giant General Electric to deliver revolutionary cell therapy treatments which attack cancers.

2018 Business & Finance 100:

View part one (A-D)

View part two (D-G)

View part three (H-P)

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