The success of two Northern Ireland companies has secured their places among the ranks of the UK's top 100 companies. Food wholesaler and retailer Henderson Group this week made its inaugural appearance in the Sunday Times Top Track 100 while stalwarts, meat processor Dunbia, returned for a fourth year to the Sunday Times Top Track 100.
The league table ranks the UK's 100 private companies with the biggest sales, with Henderson squeezing in for the first time to slot 98 after recording a growth in sales of 4% to £643m.
The Co Antrim-based food retailer supplies Northern Ireland's Spar, Eurospar, Vivo and Vivoxtra franchises as well as operating 80 of its own stores.
Led by brothers and joint managing directors Martin and Geoffrey Agnew, the company employs 2,470 people and remains family-run today.
Meanwhile, Dunbia, formerly Dungannon Meats, has risen to number 78 after reporting a 6% rise in sales to £765m, moving up 10 places from 88 from 2013.
At the helm of the Dungannon firm are brothers Jack and Jim Dobson, who founded the business and still own 100% of its shares.
It employs 3,530 people at its 13 bases across the UK – with well over 1,000 of the workforce employed in its Northern Ireland premises at Granville Industrial Estate.
The two firms feature on the table alongside a number of high-profile national brands, including Clarks, Dyson, JCB and Virgin Atlantic.
Together the two companies employ 5,700 people and have combined sales of £1.4bn, with Dunbia ranked eight in the Belfast Telegraph's list of Northern Ireland's Top 100 companies and Henderson placed 15.
The Top Track 100 annual league table is sponsored by Linklaters. It is compiled by Fast Track, the Oxford-based research and networking events company.
Henderson's place among the biggest-growing UK firms follows the group's continued dominance in the Northern Ireland retail sector. The Mallusk-based company's sales in December marked an increase of 3.6% on 2012 – with record profits of £18.4m in 2013, soaring 17.5% on the previous year.