10. Derwent London
Many business owners and leaders are waiting with trepidation to see whether a coronavirus vaccine will also yield a significant return to the office. But few have as much skin in the game as Derwent London. This vast investor and developer, with a commercial property portfolio valued most recently at £5.4bn, owns huge swathes of the British capital, including Soho Place and the Turnmill development in Clerkenwell.
Derwent grew in the property boom of the 1980s but has outlasted many of its peers by committing to strong, prudent management and focusing on the higher end of the market. The Most Admired panel is impressed by its financial reserves, and the company itself is equally bullish – it has confirmed another super-sized development in Baker Street will go ahead in 2021. Given Derwent’s exposure to the much-delayed Crossrail project, and the possible tailwinds from Brexit, that is a major vote of confidence and a portent that the strongest will survive in the decade ahead.
9. Barratt Developments
Few sectors have suffered a more topsy- turvy 2020 than housebuilding, and as the UK’s bellwether (it’s the country’s largest source of new homes), Barratt knows better than most how unpredictable the market has been. At the height of the pandemic, it furloughed 85% of its staff and mothballed building sites. But come the autumn, it was announcing its order book had risen almost 20% in 12 months, even as year-on-year revenues were down 28%.