This year's list of UK Landscape and maintenance contractors ranked by turnover - numbers 1 - 10.
1 Tilhill Forestry
Turnover £130.4m (2018: £121m)
With nearly seven decades’ experience in forest management, Tilhill is a big name in forestry with a UK reach. Having withdrawn from the landscaping market for a few years, it relaunched its landscaping arm after UBM sold Tilhill to British mill BSW in September 2015.
Tilhill now offers a range of landscaping disciplines including environmental mitigation and has also been approved for National Highway Sector Scheme 18, which allows it to carry out a broad range of work for Highways England including tree planting, hedging fencing works, habitat restoration, creation and mitigation, site clearance, maintenance, park restoration and grassland creation.
In September 2018, it recruited former Love Your Garden, Randle Siddeley and Landform Consultants landscaper and garden designer Brian Hawtin to further grow the landscaping business. He also previously ran his own garden design business and spent 12 years as a lecturer at Hadlow College in Tonbridge, Kent.
Tilhill has a network of offices throughout the UK and is one of several businesses addressing serious concerns about the skills gap by establishing a Tilhill diploma in forestry and woodland management in partnership with land-based college Coleg Cambria Llysfasi supported by the National Apprenticeship Scheme.
Key personnel include managing director George McRobbie, commercial director Gavin Adkins and business development director Peter Whitfield. Owner BSW, established in 1848, has seven UK sawmills and another in Latvia — employing more than 1,200 people.
Figures: Companies House
Ground Control: firm has surpassed aim to push turnover beyond £100m by 2020 - image: Ground Control
2 Ground Control
Turnover £120m (£99m)
Ground Control has been growing since it was established in 1973 and has surpassed its aim to push turnover beyond £100m by 2020. High-profile clients include its first commercial customer, Tesco, for which it provides grounds maintenance and holds a national partnering contract for landscape design and build services.
Other retail clients include Sainsbury’s, The Co-op, Halfords, Toys R Us, B&Q, Waitrose and Fitness First, along with Thames Water, Severn Trent Water and Anglian Water in the utilities sector and Lincoln Council, Basildon NHS, the Ministry of Defence and various schools in the public sector.
A management buyout in 2004 kick-started a series of acquisitions, moving into winter maintenance and the public sector. In October 2018, it moved into the electric vehicle-charging market, working with US charger supplier ChargePoint.
Led by managing director Marcus Watson, Ground Control gains around £45m of its annual turnover from grounds maintenance and around £25m each from commercial landscape construction and arboriculture. Further income derives from domestic landscape construction, roofing and landscape design and consultancy, including ecology. The company works across the whole of the UK, including the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, with more than 2,000 of its full-time equivalent employees engaged in maintenance and construction.
Landscape build clients are housebuilders, commercial property owners and local authorities as well as coming from education, health, retail and infrastructure (including utilities). In maintenance, it looks after commercial property, education, health, retail, infrastructure, utilities and more.
Ground Control spends approximately £3m a year each on hard landscaping products and soil and growing media, as well as £9m on trees, plants and turf. Its annual budget for accessories and workwear is about £1m and it spends the same on vehicle, plant and tools. The company has a strong education ethos and pays for staff to learn, if it will help the business.
Alongside Watson, key personnel include chief executive officer Simon Morrish. Its construction director is Alistair Wallace, arboriculture director is Peter Allan and winter maintenance director is Jay Hancocks.
National group training manager Neil Huck is also BALI’s technical director and has led on industry negotiations regarding pesticides as well as trailblazer apprenticeships. Ground Control was one of the first companies to sign up to the new trailblazer scheme and now had more than 40 apprentices.
Figures: Companies House
idverde: UK arm of French company has continued acquisitions over the past year - image: idverde
3 idverde UK
Coventry, West Midlands
Turnover £106m (£84m)
French company idverde’s UK arm continued its acquisitive streak in 2018, buying Northern Ireland’s biggest grounds maintenance player Out There Services (26 on last year’s list), following the maintenance parts of Land Engineering Scotland in 2017, Quadron in 2016 and The Landscape Group in 2015.
Led by chief executive Doug Graham, it is a strong all-rounder. Past landscape construction projects include the Royal National Theatre’s Theatre Square, Exchange Quay in Manchester, the Athletes’ Village at the Olympic Park in London and Media City in Salford. It holds several grounds maintenance contracts with the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea and the London boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham, Southwark, Merton, Sutton, Camden and Kingston.
Last year, it won a 10-year grounds maintenance contract for Northampton Borough Council worth £30m with overall facilities management contract holder Veolia. Other clients outside the capital include East Staffordshire and Charnwood Borough Councils and Colchester, with Telford & Wrekin Council set to join them with a new 10-year grounds maintenance contract in April 2019.
It has a strong presence in the housing sector, with Clarion Housing, Friendship Care & Housing, Waterloo Housing, PA Housing and Scottish Borders Housing Association among its clients. The company also provides arboriculture and winter services in the commercial and domestic sectors, and carries out interior landscaping work for clients including the University of Bournemouth and Lakeside North Harbour. It also offers a parks management service, most notably at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, where
The Landscape Group started a 10-year management contract in 2014. In 2017, idverde sponsored and built gold medal-winning RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden "Mind Trap", raising awareness of mental health issues and raising money for charity.
A performance campus was launched by idverde in 2018 to offer learning and development opportunities to all employees, such as level 2 apprenticeships in horticulture and landscaping, accredited to the new Government trailblazer standards. Leadership development and business traineeships are in the pipeline.
Doug Graham is the chief executive at idverde UK. Other key personnel include strategic development director Sarah Hughes-Clarke and managing directors Richard Burton (London and South East), Danny Mitchell (South West and Midlands) and Stuart Dillett (Scotland and the north).
Nurture Landscapes: firm has clients in the corporate, hotel and education sectors - image: Nurture Landscapes
4 Nurture Landscapes
Turnover £80m (£65m)
Nurture Landscapes continued its run of takeovers in 2018 with the acquisition of £6.8m-turnover Grace Landscapes — ranked at number 30 in our list last year — in October 2018, and Enterprise Plants in November 2018, bringing its turnover to £80m. Grace Landscapes’ operations rebranded as Nurture at the start of 2019. This followed Nurture’s dramatic sales hike from a £35m-turnover company to one with a £65m turnover when it bought Gavin Jones in February.
This nudged Nurture, which previously focused on corporate grounds maintenance and winter services, into two new markets — landscape creation and grounds maintenance for local authorities and public gardens. The majority of the Grace portfolio is made up of corporate clients with a small amount of housing and winter gritting. Gavin Jones, which holds a warrant to the Queen, continues to trade as a distinct company.
With founder and managing director Peter Fane at the helm, Nurture has grown rapidly in its first decade. Targeting steadily successful private businesses in key locations with owners close to retirement, Fane has made 19 acquisitions and has spread nationwide from the firm’s base in Windlesham, Surrey, and now has more than 1,000 employees operating out of six regional offices placed strategically around the UK.
Nurture’s core business remains in the landscape maintenance sector, with the majority of its clients in the corporate, hotel and education sectors. Their current top three clients by value are Greene King, Workman FM and Aspire Defence.
5 Scottish Woodlands
Originally a woodland owners’ co-operative, Scottish Woodlands is now Scotland’s largest provider of tree and vegetation management for utility companies and also provides arboricultural and landscaping services including tree planting and maintenance and stump removal.
Operating from 17 offices located across Scotland as well as northern England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Scottish Woodlands is one of the biggest private forestry and timber companies in the UK. Landscaping services are supplied to both the residential and industrial sectors, to clients including local authorities, housing associations, utility companies, property developers, civil engineers and housing developers.
Recent projects include a new woodland creation scheme at Allanfauld in Lanarkshire, the creation of a productive timber crop on a traditional estate in Grampian, north-east Scotland, and a forestry clearance operation at Fort Augustus in the Highlands.
Ralland Browne is the company’s managing director, Craig Nimmo is utilities and landscaping director and Duncan Gilchrist is head of landscaping.
Figures: Companies House
Turnover £56m (£48m)
Glendale Managed Services, trading as Glendale, operates across mainland Britain with 1,250 staff working in landscape construction for commercial clients, local authorities and the third sector as well as carrying out maintenance for councils, housebuilders, utility firms, education providers and the third sector.
Long-standing clients include Birmingham City Council and the London Borough of Lewisham. Other clients include Gatwick Airport, where Glendale delivers grounds maintenance services; and the long-running Glendale-Lewisham partnership.
Alex Paterson is managing director, supported by Mike Brunskill as managing director north and Adrian Wickham as managing director south. Glendale is owned by Parkwood Holdings.
Turnover £55m (£50m)
Tivoli was formerly known as ISS Facility Services Landscaping, ISS Waterers and Waterers Landscapes. It doubled turnover during 15 years as part of ISS and was bought by private-equity firm Sullivan Street Partners in February 2018, with completion at the end of May 2018.
It provides grounds maintenance, landscape construction, arboriculture, winter gritting and snow clearance services as well as interior plants and floristry to a wide-ranging portfolio of clients across the UK. Tivoli holds grounds maintenance contracts to look after almost the entirety of the Ministry of Defence estates — the largest grounds maintenance, street cleansing and voids contract in the UK. Other clients are drawn from the public sector, social housing, the NHS, education providers and private blue-chip companies, many with national requirements.
Now the firm is looking to grow, with private-equity money and more freedom than it had under ISS, which is withdrawing from the landscaping market. It is investing in improved systems and processes such as a bespoke integrated workforce management system that will enable to Tivoli to build on its success over the past 30 years. Chris McLain is the chief executive.
8 TCL Holdings
Little Eaton, Derbyshire
Turnover £53.8m (£50.2m)
TCL Group operates five landscape businesses. TCL designs, constructs, manages and maintains outdoor spaces for housebuilders, commercial developers, public bodies, schools and private customers. Playforce designs outdoor play areas for housebuilders, commercial developers and schools.
Plantscape provides floral displays for local authorities and commercial clients. Winter services arm Ice Watch has more than 100 gritting teams.
The company acquired third-generation family business G Burley & Sons, trading as Burleys, in 2014. It manages estates for local authorities, housing associations and property managers, as well as holding a Royal Warrant. In August 2017, it bought West Midlands landscaper Forest Hill Landscapes for £5.5m. The company currently operates under two main brand names, TC Landscapes and Burleys.
TCL has a strong environmental ethos. It uses Weedingtech’s chemical-free weed-killing method Foamstream, offsets carbon by planting trees, recycles green waste, favours local suppliers and prefers to use peat-free products and organic fertilisers and pesticides on fine turf, with agreement from its clients.
9 Mitie Landscapes
Turnover £47.1m (£42.3m)
Unlike most of its peers, facilities management giant Mitie has a dedicated landscaping arm established by managing director Tim Howell, a career horticulturist who has previously worked for Gavin Jones and Hillier.
Some 70% of its turnover derives from grounds maintenance, with the remaining 30% from winter services for commercial clients. It operates across the whole of the UK, including the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, with some 800 full-time equivalent grounds maintenance staff.
Mitie has a diverse blue-chip customer base, from banks and retailers to hospitals, schools and Government offices. It uses smart analytics to provide valuable insight and deliver efficiencies for customers through its internet-of-things system "Connected Workplace", which collects and analyses data to provide insight that informs strategic planning and enables predictive modelling.
Contract wins in 2018 included winter maintenance work at 164 sites for Aldi across South Wales and the west of England as well as 61 sites and two distribution centres for Matalan. The company also won grounds maintenance contracts with South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (72 sites) and Devon Partnership NHS Trust (21 sites). Supporting managing director Howell is operations director (landscapes) Andy Barton, head of operations (south) Robert Bedwin and head of operations (north) David Slater.
Figures: Companies House
Turnover £39.8m (£26.8m)
Hard landscaping expert Maylim has built a solid reputation for quality work, particularly at high-end, new-build, mixed-use schemes in its native London. In 2017 it won the Grand Award in the BALI National Landscape Awards for its hard landscaping work at Berkeley Group development One Tower Bridge on its first attempt at entering.
Other recent high-profile projects include Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross, phase one of works at Battersea Power Station, Rathbone Place on Rathbone Square, the International Quarter in Stratford, the Greenwich riverfront redevelopment, the London School of Economics, One Crown Place and Chelsea Harbour.
Maylim has been spearheaded by managing director Thomas O’Mahony since 2009, following a move from Skanska, where he had responsibility for all infrastructure projects. Maylim works in the public and private sectors as well as delivering highway and civil engineering projects, with 68 full-time equivalent staff. Its top three suppliers/subcontractors are Willerby Landscapes, Miller Druck International Stone and Kent Stainless.
Figures: Companies House