As another challenging but immensely successful year for Irish business, in a domestic and global context, draws to a close we are delighted to release the Business & Finance 100, celebrating the ‘100 Most Outstanding Irish Companies of 2019’. The Index comprises the best performing, most innovative, and fastest growing companies.
It is no secret that Ireland’s economy has been gaining strength year on year from the dark days of the recession and at almost full employment, it’s a testimony to the country as a whole but to these companies in particular—driving as they are the immense success of the nation through the success of their business. The Business & Finance 100 comprises some well-known company names, as can only be expected—companies such as Smurfit Kappa, Aer Lingus, Primark and CPL—as well as newer companies that are constantly innovating, increasing their reach and scope and making waves such as Netwatch, Transfermate and eShopWorld.
Business & Finance are proud to recognise the Business & Finance 100 in the magazine, online and as an integral part of the Business & Finance Awards. The new decade is shaping up to be an exciting year and we look forward to reporting on the successes of these companies as they continue to flourish.
The paper bag and flexible packaging producer founded by CEO Dermot Brady over 30 years ago makes paper shopping bags and tissue for commercial retailers such as Primark, T.J. Maxx, Nike, Vodafone, and Tommy Hilfiger. When Primark, one of the Blessington-based Group’s largest customers, entered into the US market it was imperative to follow and AB opened its first US plant in Newark in 2016, joining existing strategically-located bases in the UK and Spain.
ABP Food Group
Founded in 1954, the award-winning beef processing group operates with a network of over 35,000 farmers, and contributes an estimated €1.3bn each year into the rural economies in which it operates, turning over €3bn. The core business—ABP Beef—is supported by its renewable, pet food and protein divisions, which combine to ensure the value of by-products is maximised and the environmental impact is minimised. It operates across 51 locations in 9 countries across Ireland, the UK and Europe.
ABP won 29 awards at the World Steak Challenge 2018, including World’s Best Fillet Steak, and repeated the win for World’s Best Fillet Steak at the World Steak Challenge 2019. They were awarded 13 gold, 14 silver and 13 bronze accolades across a number of different categories, reaffirming ABP’s position the leading beef processor in the EU. These awards are an endorsement of the unique Ultra Tender Process that the company utilises.
Last year ABP Foods announced a ground-breaking deal with Chinese online retailer JD.com one of the largest B2C online retailers in China by transaction volume and revenue, with 301.8 million active users recorded in the first quarter of 2018.
Ireland’s flagship airline, privatised between 2006 and 2015, and now wholly owned by IAG, is set for a new era as they announced a rebranding in autumn 2018, along with the expansion and upgrading of their long haul flights, continuing to focus on Ireland to North America routes. Speaking at APEX EXPO 2018 in Boston, Aer Lingus CEO Stephen Kavanagh said the changes “will reflect the airline’s modern outlook and ambition to be the leading value carrier across the North Atlantic”.
Galway medtech firm Aerogen, which provides acute care aerosol drug delivery devices, has about 30 people working permanently overseas, in addition to its Irish workforce, with employees in Britain, Germany, France, China and US. The company’s devices are used in 75 countries, with 80 per cent of hospitals in Ireland and 60 per cent of the top 100 hospitals in the US using their products.
AIB is a financial services group operating predominantly in the Republic of Ireland and the UK, providing a comprehensive range of services to personal, business and corporate customers. The bank has announced it is on track to meet its target of lowering its non-performing loans to 5 per cent of total loans by the end of this year. It agreed at end October to sell another portfolio of problem loans, with a face value of €850 million, to US distressed debt giant Cerberus at a discount of 18 per cent. CEO Colin Hunt is preparing to accompany full-year results for the bank in March with a new strategic plan, including financial targets and a programme to return excess capital on its balance sheet to shareholders, led by the State, which holds a 71 per cent stake.
Limerick-based AMCS was founded by CEO Jimmy Martin. AMCS is the leading supplier of integrated software and vehicle technology for the waste, recycling and material resources industries. AMCS is headquartered in Ireland with offices in the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands and Pennsylvania in the US.
An Post is a major commercial organization providing a wide range of services encompassing postal, communication, retail and financial areas. It is one of Ireland’s largest companies directly employing over 10,000 people through its national network of retail, processing and delivery points. An Post has had the third year in a row of profit and growth, making it one of the best performing postal organisations worldwide. An Post was forecast to make a loss of €150m in 2019 but is on course to make a profit of €40m.
Petrogas Group US INC T/A Applegreen is a 100%-owned subsidiary of Applegreen plc, a publicly quoted company listed on the Irish and UK stock markets, also operating four sites in the US. The fuel and forecourt retailer is focused on continual expansion of activity in its three main markets – Ireland, the UK and the US, striking a deal in 2018 that would see it holding a majority stake in UK motorway service area operator, Welcome Break.
Ardagh is a global leader in glass and metal packaging, with a global staff of over 23,500 in 22 countries. Founded in 1932 as the Irish Glass Bottle Company in Dublin, the company expanded through a series of acquisitions after Paul Coulson, the current Chairman and CEO, acquired an initial stake in the company in 1998.
The Cavan-based precision engineering toolmaker operates in 60 markets, with a network of over 1,400 distributors and manufacturing centres in Ireland, the UK and the US. The business has been built up over 50 years, serving aerospace, automotive, oil and gas markets, shipbuilding and metal fabrication. Former Smurfit executive Peter Cosgrove led an acquisition of the company in 2008, seeing its potential for growth. The acquisition of its biggest competitor SGS Tool (Cleveland, Ohio) in December 2012 put the company into a world leadership position and it now employs over 200 people worldwide.
Aviva Group Ireland plc is the Irish arm of British insurance firm Aviva plc, and is the largest general insurer in Ireland, according to Hoover’s reports, with more than 20% of the market share. The company also provides investment management and pension services. Around the world, Aviva Group caters to more than 33 million customers—the Aviva Group is present across 16 markets in Europe, Asia and Canada.
With Ireland the global leader in aviation leasing, Avolon is one of the most important pieces of the jigsaw—it was the largest funded startup in the world, raising $750 million in equity, and is currently the third largest lessor in the world with the youngest fleet. The year 2018 saw the completion and opening of Avolon’s new global HQ at One Ballsbridge, Dublin, complementing its offices in the US, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Bank of Ireland
Headed up by Francesca McDonagh since 2017, Bank of Ireland is one of the traditional ‘Big Four’ Irish banks. Historically the premier banking organisation in Ireland, the Bank occupies a unique position in Irish banking history. The Bank of Ireland Group is a diversified Financial Services Group. Bank of Ireland, now a subsidiary of Bank of Ireland Group plc, was established in 1783 by Royal Charter.
A global leader in animal health, Bimeda has established markets in more than 70 countries worldwide and has R&D, manufacturing and distribution capabilities across Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Asia and Australia. Bimeda employs almost 800 employees worldwide with US headquarters are based in Oakbrook Terrace, IL. The Bimeda US product portfolio focuses on five key categories: ecto- and endo-parasiticides, water soluble antimicrobial, injectables and nutritional products.
BoyleSports is the second largest bookmaker in Ireland, 231 retail branches throughout the country. Founded in 1989 by John Boyle, it is headquartered in Dundalk, County Louth.
The leading retail and wholesale distribution group, including Spar, Mace and Londis brands, was formed from the amalgamation of four independent wholesale companies in the 1970s. A 2002 management buyout from Pernod Ricard was led by CEO Leo Crawford, supported by London-based VC firm Electra Partners. In 2006, Triod Investments Ltd – controlled by Crawford, John Clohisey and John O’Donnell – completed the purchase.They now operate the foods Division in Ireland, incorporating REtail, Wholeseale and Wines & Spirits, BWG Property and Appleby Westward which operates the regional distribution centre for Spar in the UK.
Best known internationally for its Magners cider brand (Bulmers in Ireland) C&C Group has production facilities in Ireland, the UK and the US. It grew out of a Belfast chemist business, Cantrell & Dyas, which manufactured mineral waters, ginger ale, lemonade and soda water in the 1850s. Merging with the soft drinks business of Henry Cochrane, Cantrelll and Cochrane gave their names to today’s C&C Group.
Headquartered in Dublin, CarTrawler’s international offices are located in London, Boston, Helsinki, Melbourne and Tokyo. CarTrawler is the world’s leading B2B travel technology platform, connecting travel businesses with transport solutions.
Circle K’s parent company Alimentation Couche-Tard bought Topaz from Denis O’Brien in 2016, and rebranded across the country in 2018. With an ambition to grow the geographic footprint of the Circle K brand, the Irish market was selected as being a strategic fit to strengthen the position of the brand in Western Europe. Alimentation Couche-Tard operates a network of almost 16,000 stores around the world including: 9,800 stores throughout North America and 2,700 in Europe. Couche-Tard employs 133,000 people and has licensing agreements for another 2,200 stores.
Coillte owns and manages 7% of Ireland’s land and comprises three businesses – Forestry, Land Solutions and Medite/Smartply. Coillte began developing the forestry side of the business in 1989 when it left the company left the Civil Service and became a commercial semi-State. Coillte contributes €4.2 billion to the economy and supports 12,000 jobs.