Sunderland businesses make list of top growing firms

Hays Travel founder John Hays founder John Hays outside the firm's orginal shop in Seaham.
Hays Travel founder John Hays founder John Hays outside the firm's orginal shop in Seaham.
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Two Sunderland companies have been hailed as among the country's best for their size.

Hays Travel and business process manager Paragon both feature on the 12th annual Sunday Times Grant Thornton Top Track 250 league table, which ranks Britain’s private mid-market growth companies with the biggest sales.

Paragon's Pallion site

Paragon's Pallion site

Hays is ranked 49th, with sales of £306million a year, while Paragon's £240million is enough to earn the Pallion-based firm 79th place in its début on the list.

The two Sunderland firms are among six companies headquartered in the North East to amke the table, with combined sales up 17% to £1.5bn, operating profits up 21% to £179m. and employing 11,200 people between them.

The biggest mid-market growth company in the region is Newcastle-based Parkdean Resorts, which also has the biggest profits. Sales grew 8% to £401m while profits grew 16% to £107m. The company employs more than 5,000 people at its 73 holiday parks nationwide, attracting 2m holidaymakers each year.

As well as Paragon, Middlesbrough-based chemicals logistics firm Bulkhaul and food & drink wholesaler Kitwave, based in North Shields, are also new to the list, while South Tynesid'e Barbour Clothing completes the region's presence.

The companies in the North East appear with businesses from around the UK, including Arsenal, Dr Martens, Nando’s, Skyscanner and Wagamama.

The league table and awards programme is sponsored by Grant Thornton, and compiled for the 12th year by Fast Track, the Oxford-based research and networking events company.

Andy Wood, Partner at Grant Thornton UK LLP, praised the companies for their performance: "In the wake of the EU referendum it is more important than ever that businesses, and the public and the third sectors work together to help the UK to build on its strengths and ensure that the economy continues to grow.

"I am heartened to see how these businesses are embracing a collaborative approach to drive prosperity throughout the UK and wider society."