Top 30 UK Arboriculture Businesses 2019: 11 - 20

BTS Group: firm founded as Broadleaf Tree Specialists by Halley McCallum in 1988 - image: BTS Group
BTS Group: firm founded as Broadleaf Tree Specialists by Halley McCallum in 1988 - image: BTS Group

This year's list of UK Arboriculture Businesses ranked by turnover - numbers 11 - 20.

The top 11-20 firms listed below are specialist arboriculture businesses.

JUMP TO: 1-10 / 11-20 / 21-30 

11 BTS Group
Ipswich, Suffolk
Turnover £15.2m
Key personnel Halley McCallum (managing director), Sarah Winnard (senior contract manager), Jonathan Pearson (senior contract manager), Andrew Watts (group infrastructure director), Darren Clark (operations director)

BTS was founded in 1988 as Broadleaf Tree Specialists by current managing director Halley McCallum and has since grown to be the UK’s largest specialist utility arboriculture contractor. As such, its main clients are Distribution Network Operators (DNOs), for which it maintains some 100,000km of overhead power lines.

In 2006, BTS bought overhead line company DPL, enabling it to carry out tree clearance and overhead line maintenance at the same time. Following a difficult couple of recent years, which saw its main DNO client take its vegetation work in-house, it has since seen profits rebound from £33,000 in 2016 to more than £1.1m in 2017.

The group also turns over around £0.5m a year from retail, supplying equipment at wholesale prices to its vegetation management division, and also high-end branded products to the industry, while a training arm provides NPTC training for direct and contracting staff.

In December 2018 the company was bought by environmental services company RSK, but it is continuing to trade as before under the same management.

Gristwood & Toms: turns waste wood into high-grade chip to use in biomass boilers - image: Gristwood & Toms

12 Gristwood & Toms
Shenley, Hertfordshire (eight regional depots)
Turnover £11.9m
Key personnel Andy Toms (director), Dave Gristwood (director), James Shaw (contracts manager)

Set up by Dave Gristwood and Andy Toms in 1983, the company has grown to become the country’s largest general arboriculture contractor, covering most of England from eight regional depots and directly employing more than 200 staff.

Its clients encompass 20 local authorities including 12 London boroughs, and it also holds tree maintenance contracts for other large landowners including social housing providers, construction and transport infrastructure companies, The Royal Parks, English Heritage and the Forestry Commission.

The firm has pioneered the productive use of waste wood, turning it into high-grade chip suitable for use in biomass boilers. Most recently this has led to arisings from the company’s work in the South West being turned into energy at Bristol City Council’s Blaise Nursery for use there and elsewhere in the city.

Apart from mainstream contracting, Gristwood & Toms also provides a range of consultancy services. The company has shown slight negative turnover growth for the past three years. However, since its most recently published figure, it has won a £14m "single-supplier framework contract" with three London boroughs.

13 Hi-Line Contractors SW
Exeter, Devon
Turnover £9.5m
Key personnel Hugh Griffiths (director), Mark Jury (director), Douglas Tosh (rail contracts manager), Olan Parkinson (senior team leader)

Established in 1998, Hi-Line has become the foremost arboricultural contractor in the South West, covering the full spectrum of tree work from public sector, which includes many of the region’s local authorities, to schools, colleges and universities, and utilities clients, for which staff are qualified to NPTC utility arboriculture standards.

It also provides arboricultural consultancy, from development site advice, reports, planning and appeals and subsidence claims to wildlife surveys. The company is also responsible for some veteran tree management and biomass production, and is a trainer in a range of arboriculture work.

=14 Bartlett Tree Experts
Three offices nationally
Turnover £6m
Key personnel Richard Trippett (UK director), Dr Glynn Percival (technical support specialist)

Bartlett differs from the other companies on this list in a number of ways. It is part of the only transnational tree care company of any size, the FA Bartlett Tree Expert Company, founded by the renowned US dendrologist in 1907 and still owned by the Bartlett family.

Its 13 UK offices are just part of a network of more than 100 locations across the USA, Canada and also Ireland. Its work, too, tends towards more specialist tree consultancy services, including plant analysis and diagnostics, rather than mainstream arboricultural contracting.

=14 City Suburban Tree Surgeons
Beckenham, Kent
Turnover £6m
Key personnel Tony Cutting (commercial director), Scott Farrens (managing director)

Dealing with local authority and utility customers, City Suburban Tree Surgeons (CSTS) is part of the City Suburban Group along with CSG Usher’s (number 30), which focuses on housing associations, corporate and domestic clients.

CSTS was established in 1972 as a domestic contractor, only specialising in local authority work in 1989. Its current client list covers around 20 London boroughs, along with other nearby authorities and housing associations.

16 KPS Contractors
Haywards Heath, West Sussex
Turnover £5.6m
Key personnel Paul Smyth (managing director), Mick Foskett (arboriculture contract manager)

Another arboriculture firm with a broad portfolio, KPS was started 40 years ago by current managing director Paul Smyth and now has a full range of arboricultural kit and vehicles backed up by its own workshop and mechanics.

As well as covering all aspects of tree care for commercial and residential customers, KPS also provides fencing and landscaping services. It also sells a range of landscaping products derived from the woody and green waste that its work generates.

Sister company KPS Composting Services was established more than 10 years ago and has now grown to become one of the largest specialist composting firms in the UK.

17 Maydencroft
Hitchin, Hertfordshire
Turnover £5.5m
Key personnel Tom Williams (managing director), Patrick Venables (contracts manager), Digger Cooke-Hurle (head of contracting)

Maydencroft was founded only in 2007 by current managing director Tom Williams — who is still aged under 40 — with just three staff. The firm now services major tree maintenance contracts with utility companies and local authorities, for which it also conducts tree safety inspections, as well as taking on smaller domestic jobs for a range of private clients.

A relatively broad-based company, Maydencroft also manages more than 2,500ha of woodland, provides landscape construction and grounds maintenance services, and even rears traditional longhorn cattle at its Hertfordshire farm base.

18 Acorn Group
Redditch, Worcestershire (branches in Peterborough and Sheffield)
Turnover £4.5m
Key personnel Kevin O’Rourke (managing director), Gavin Martin (business development director), Peter Logan (operations manager)

Set up more than 25 years ago, Acorn’s customers now include local authorities, housing associations, highways and other Government departments and agencies, and major companies. It offers a range
of specialist services including tomography-based decay detection and air spading.

Like many arboriculture firms of its size, Acorn also undertakes landscaping work, and earlier this year announced a series of new services including ecology and mitigation works. It also launched a training academy able to provide a full range of arboriculture and landscape industry courses.

Urban Forestry: provides arboricultural and landscape services in central England - image: Urban Forestry WTCS

19 Urban Forestry
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
Turnover £3.7m
Key personnel Ian Choules (director), Reg Harris (director of arboriculture)

Founded in 1992, Urban Forestry provides a range of arboricultural and landscape services across a
wide area of central England, while a northern landscaping team based in Betley, near Crewe in Cheshire, covers the north of England and north Wales.

20 AC Landscape & Treeworks
Kingsteignton, Devon
Turnover £3.5m
Key personnel Ben Cockcroft (chief executive), Simon Ablett (senior manager)

Established in 2007 by Simon Ablett and Ben Cockcroft, AC Landscapes & Treeworks provides utility and highways arboriculture as well as commercial tree work, consultancy, vegetation management and landscaping, in addition to its garage services and training divisions. The company also has a West Midlands office in Birmingham.

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