Telling the truth about SME life today

Health & public services

Cut-throat competition. Narrow margins. Stifling government regulation. Enough to put some out of business. But not Pathvalley (2nd). Owned and run by Bolton brothers Anwar and Yakub Ibrahim Patel, this £12.6m-turnover firm operates a chain of pharmacies, mostly in the north-west of England. With pre-tax profits at a slim £970,312, the Patel brothers dipped into their own pockets to lend the company £8.7m to fund their recent purchase of Wrights Chemists.

Matthew Perrett is keeping an eye on his bottom line. He co-founded Hobson Prior (24th) with Jane Woodhead in 2002, supplying staff to the pharmaceutical industry. Profits hit £1.5m last year.

Making its second successive appearance in the Hot 100 is £25m-turnover Maria Mallaband Care Group (34th). Founded in 1996 by Phil Burgan, who named the firm after his grandmother, this Leeds-based group now operates 47 homes throughout the UK. Its most recent acquisitions include Abbey Nursing Home in Bangor, Northern Ireland, and Furze Hill Lodge in Surrey.

Contemplation Holdings (49th) also runs nursing homes, almost all based in the south of England. It employs nearly 200 staff in its various homes and at its head office in Hampshire.

LighterLife (54th) and Orchard & Shipman (81st) are two rather different companies in this sector. Uxbridge-based Orchard & Shipman provides temporary and settled housing solutions to local authorities. While the rest of the property market has been torpedoed by the recession, government investment has helped fuel this firm’s growth.

Bar Hewlett and Jackie Cox set up Lighterlife in 1996 to address the psychological reasons behind over-eating. Since launching, more than 100,000 people have lost weight on their Lighterlife programme and, with 60 per cent of men and 40 per cent of women expected to be obese by 2050, there should be no shortage of clients. Hewlett says she didn’t take a salary from the company for years but, with sales of £21.3m and profits topping £1.4m, she might feel she’s earned that pay cheque now.


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