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.
Having commenced operation from a green field site in Listowel, Co. Kerry in 1972, the Kerry organisation has evolved from a private dairy processor, to a dairy co-operative, to its current incarnation as a public company with annualised sales of approximately €6.4 billion, and operations established in 27 countries across five continents. CEO Edmond Scanlon announced Group reported revenue increased by 10.0%, reflecting business volume growth of 3.1%, in the nine months to the end of September 2019 in the most recent set of results.
Keywords Studios are the “go-to” provider of technical services for the video games industry, creating a global services platform across its 50+ Studios, located across 4 continents and 21 countries. By working as their external development partner, Keywords enables leading content creators and publishers to leverage their expertise and capacity across the lifecycle of interactive content. The company IPO-ed in London in 2013 to access capital for growth and acquisitions, growing from employing 50 people in Dublin in 2009 to employing more than 7,500 staff globally today.
Kingspan, the leading global manufacturer of insulation panels for the construction industry, was founded as a small family construction business over 40 years ago.
The Group has huge opportunity for growth as reduction of carbon footprint has become a pressing issue.
The Group has invested in organic growth and acquisitions in the US market, bringing their employee numbers up to 1,800. The Americas represented 20% of Kingspan’s business in 2017, in a record period for the group in which revenue rose by 18.0% to €3.7bn, and trading profit grew by 10.7% to €377.5m. High profile projects included facades on the Nike headquarters in Oregon and an Aloft Hotel in Texas.
The past year has been successful for the Group, with its Trading profit up 12 per cent at €230 million in the first six months of the year while revenues surged 18 per cent to €2.2 billion.
In its Trading Update for the period to 30 September 2019 posting Sales in the nine month period to 30 September were €3.43bn, up 8% on the same period in the prior year with sales growth slowing to 2% in the third quarter. Underlying sales (pre currency and acquisitions) were up 2% in the year to date and were flat in the third quarter.
One of Ireland’s largest construction groups, Lagan Group’s activities range across quarrying, cement, asphalt, and contracting. The group was originally founded in 1952 when Peter Lagan created a haulage business in Belfast. In 2017, Lagan Group reported turnover of £272 million along with EBITDA (combined earnings) of £55m. In April 2018, the group was acquired by Breedon, Britain’s largest independent building materials supplier, in a deal worth £455 million.
Lakeland Dairies is a farmer-owned dairy processing co-operative based in Killeshandra, County Cavan, with a heritage spanning over 100 years. Lakeland Dairies processes over 1.8 Billion litres of farm-produced milk into a wide range of dairy foodservice products, consumer foods and dairy food ingredients which service over 80 countries across the globe.
Founded in 1974, Linesight is a multinational construction consultancy firm with over 40 years’ experience providing independent cost and general consultancy services to the global construction industry. Linesight works with tier one clients across a multitude of sectors, including commercial, data centres, life sciences, high-tech industrial, residential. hospitality, healthcare and retail. Linesight’s specialist project teams, each with specific skills and experience, provide faster project delivery, greater cost efficiency and maximum value for money for their clients. Linesight USA is working on projects in excess of $12 billion across 27 states, with two main office hubs in New York and San Francisco. Linesight has developed long-lasting relationships with some of the biggest companies in the world and has earned a reputation as a world leader in its field.
Founded by Fergal Broder in 1989, LotusWorks is an Irish engineering and technical solutions provider. The company, which offers specialist engineering expertise to clients, has an annual turnover of €50 million, employing 520 staff in Europe and the United States. The firm has worked on over 4,000 projects in Europe, the United States, and South America. In October 2018, four of the Lotuswork’s senior executives completed a management buyout as the firm seeks to expand its technical and engineering capabilities.
Mainstream Renewable Power
Mainstream Renewable Power is an Irish energy firm which develops and finances large-scale renewable energy projects. Earlier this year, the company executed the sale of a massive Scottish offshore wind farm in a deal worth up to €650 million. The company considers its most prized asset to be a 1,200 megawatt portfolio of wind and solar projects in Chile. Mainstream has valued its own worth at €700 million, and its chief executive, Andy Kinsella, has indicated that the firm may be sold on from 2020, as it considers exit options for shareholders.
Maxol Group is one of Ireland’s most recognised oil brands – its operations now span 230 service stations in every county. Maxol Group, with a turnover in excess of €600m, directly and indirectly employs more than 1,000 people across the island of Ireland. Since its founding in 1920, the company has diversified its offering, and it is now responsible for most parts of the oil supply chain (including automotive, heating, and oil terminals). It also operates an increasingly tailored retail offering: in November 2018, the company announced the opening of its first Mexican restaurant outlet of the Zambrero chain.
Mercury, founded in 1972 by Frank O’Kane and Joe Morgan , continues to operate as an entrepreneurial Irish based European Contractor. With almost 2,000 staff and revenues in excess of €750 million, Mercury made the key decision to rebrand in 2019 – the first and only in almost fifty years of business.
The poultry producer, Northern Ireland’s largest private sector business, made headlines in 2017 when it was sold to American investors for €1.1 billion. Headquartered in Craigavonor, the firm is headed by Chris Kirke. Founded as a small farm in Tyrone over seven decades ago, the group now processes an average of 5.7 million chickens per week, holding a market share which ranks it among Europe’s leading poultry producers. May Park has also grown to become one of Northern Ireland’s largest employers, with more than half of the group’s international workforce of 12,000 based there.
Musgrave, Ireland’s largest grocery distributor, is the business behind many of Ireland’s most well-known supermarket brands. Its operations range from wholesale to a vast Retail Partners division which manages grocery chains in the Republic of Ireland including SuperValu, Centra, and Mace. Founded by two brothers as a small grocery in 1876, the group’s 40,000 employees now make it Ireland’s largest private employer. In 2018, the Group delivered its fourth consecutive year of improved profits and turnover reached €3.9 billion, up from €3.7 billion in 2017, with a pre-tax profit of €85 million up from €80 million.
A global payment services giant, NCR Corporation’s products span software, hardware, and a portfolio of services for small and medium business. Originally known as National Cash Register, the American company has built a name providing point-of-sale solutions and ATMs – recently announcing the launch of a new online purchase platform. The tech company’s Irish subsidiary, Global Solutions, employs 43 at its Dublin base.
Netwatch was founded in 2003 by its current CEO, David Walsh—who steps down at the end of this year—and CTO Niall Kelly, and provides remote security in the form of visual monitoring services for over 3,500 client locations throughout the world. In addition to Ireland and the US, Netwatch also has a significant operation in the UK where it owns Onwatch Multifire in East Sussex.
Now known as Netwatch Group, the Carlow-based security tech enterprise merged with several American and UK rivals following an investment from American private equity firm Riverside.
The newly-formed Netwatch Group comprises Netwatch—who already operated US offices in Netwatch offices in Boston, Chicago and New Jersey—and the California-based National Monitoring Centre, CalAtlantic in Texas and Onwatch Multifire, which is based in Sussex, doubling the workforce. The merger also brought with it the addition of 1,000 resellers in the USA, driving sales for Netwatch technologies, serving clients in the government, critical infrastructure (utilities, communications, energy), manufacturing, warehouse/logistics, mining and minerals, finance, retail, and auto dealerships. This year it announced further expansion of its team in the US, creating 100 jobs to fill demand for its new solutions built on artificial intelligence and machine learning.
One of the world’s largest private veterinary pharmaceutical firms, family-owned Norbrook was founded by Lord Ballyedmond in 1969. From its headquarters in Newry, the company holds a drug portfolio which includes antibiotics such as a Noroclav and Betamox, and a range of NSAIDs used for horses, cattle, and swine. Norbrook saw solid growth across all regions in 2018 and its full-year results saw revenue grow 1% to $275m, with US sales up 15%.
The OHM Group, established in 1972, is one of Ireland’s leading private businesses and is engaged in the exclusive distribution of internationally recognised brands and prestige products.
The Group’s activities include the importation and distribution of motor cars—for Jaguar, Land Rover and Saab in Ireland— as well as commercial vehicles, buses, materials handling equipment, generators and engines. The Group is also successfully involved in motor retailing.
This has been a stand-out period for Ornua, a co-operative which is ultimately owned by the dairy farmers of Ireland. Its primary objective is to maximise the price it pays for dairy products so that its shareholders, the dairy processors, can maximise the milk price paid to farmers. Ornua is firmly committed to creating value for Irish dairy farming families through the delivery of strong product price returns. Earlier this year it reported a strong 2018 trading performance with Group turnover reaching €2.1 billion, Group EBITDA of €60.5 million up 12.5% and Operating Profit of €40.4 million up 14.8%. This performance was achieved by its global team of 2,200 employees, during a period of significant and sustained investment across its facilities and brand portfolio. Its 5-year CAGR on EBITDA is 16.2%. It has been an exceptional time for Kerrygold. With Kerrygold it has a prestigious global brand, with a unique tradition and heritage. Last April, Kerrygold became Ireland’s first billion-euro food brand, surpassing €1 billion in annual retail sales. The strength and impressive growth of Kerrygold has allowed Ornua to pay a brand premium of €18 million to its members for Kerrygold product last year alone. Ornua Ingredients has also marked several key milestones in recent times. Its Avila facility outside Madrid, which was sadly destroyed by a devastating fire in December 2017, has been rebuilt following a €30 million investment. In the US market Ornua Ingredients had a record 2018, experiencing double digit growth.
Pallas Foods ranks among Ireland’s largest food wholesalers, with an estimated €450 million turnover in 2017. The group’s offering includes over 14,500 fresh, frozen, and non-food products served via its “next day delivery” fleet to over 9,000 customers. Pallas merged with Brakes Ireland in 2017, following acquisition by Pallas’ parent company Sysco, the US’s largest food distributor. It now employs 1,300 nationwide at facilities in Dublin, Newcastle West, and Lisburn.
PM Group is an international project delivery company founded by two Irish engineers in 1973, It has offices in the UK, USA, Poland and Singapore overseeing delivery of its services in project management, process design, facility design and construction management for major multinational companies across the Pharmaceutical, Food, Mission Critical, Medtech, Advanced Manufacturing and Energy sectors.
Family business Portwest has over 110 years of heritage, and is today one of the fastest growing workwear companies in the world. Headquartered in Westport, Co. Mayo, it has global sales teams in 13 countries, including the US. Portwest were named Exporter of the Year at the Export Industry Awards 2018.