Top 15 most profitable UK security companies

‘Sales are for vanity and profit is for sanity’ and although a security company’s sales numbers tell us who is the biggest security company, they don’t tell us if they’re going bust. After all, the most profitable security companies are not always the biggest. For example, Interserve was big with sales of £2.9 billion and went bust and Carillion was huge with sales of £5.2 billion and went to the wall! Therefore, if you want to know the best security company to work for and if it will provide a service, read on.

Top 15 most profitable UK security companies
Rank Security Company   2022 Profit £ 
1 The Bidvest Group 228,786,894
2 Mitie Group PLC 50,700,000
3 OCS Group UK 19,559,000
4 ISS Facility Services 18,662,000
5 Wilson James 7,560,000
6 Amberstone Security 5,037,040
7 Kingdom Services Group  3,315,365
8 TSS 2,877,000
9 SecuriGroup 2,449,783
10 I.C.T.S. (U.K.) 2,323,000
11 CIS Security 2,080,728
12 Carlisle Security Services 898,000
13 Corps Security 806,000
14 SSGC 173,733
15 Allied Universal (Europe) -544,096

Note

  • Bidvest records financial results using the Rand. Therefore, converted to GBP with 0.042 exchange rate.
  • TSS accounts use 14 month accounting period.
  • OCS and Atalian Servest merger means 2021 accounts shown.

More and more companies are going bust – especially security companies!

More companies go bust today than at any time since 2008. To make money is tough. Moreover, external events such as COVID19 don’t help: Gold’s Gym, Topshop, Hertz and Virgin Atlantic all went bust owing to the pandemic. And, while governments bail out big banks, security companies offer physical not financial security and therefore, don’t get a bail out.

The below graph shows a big increase in the number of security companies going bust.

Security company insolvencies rise in graph - March 19 to March 23 show rise from low of 2 in May 2020 to 18 in March 2023

 Look for safety not sales

To grow a security company is a great achievement: it’s a competitive industry with huge price pressure and regulation (Martyns Law). However, not all growth is good. For example, some sales are won at such a low price they lose companies money. Therefore, to know if a company is good, bad or risky, we need more than just sales numbers.

Search for a safe, profitable security company

A safe, profitable security company is one that makes money, pays their bills on time and is efficient. Therefore, we need to know if the security company can:

  1. Make a profit
  2. Pay people it owes
  3. Make money from its sales
  4. Make money from its employees
  5. Pay its finance interest

We look at a security company’s financial results and work out if it’s safe and profitable: the best security company to work for and with.

1. Top 15 most profitable security companies

Rank Security Company   2022 Profit £ 
1 The Bidvest Group 228,786,894
2 Mitie Group PLC 50,700,000
3 OCS Group UK 19,559,000
4 ISS Facility Services 18,662,000
5 Wilson James 7,560,000
6 Amberstone Security 5,037,040
7 Kingdom Services Group  3,315,365
8 TSS 2,877,000
9 SecuriGroup 2,449,783
10 I.C.T.S. (U.K.) 2,323,000
11 CIS Security 2,080,728
12 Carlisle Security Services 898,000
13 Corps Security 806,000
14 SSGC 173,733
15 Allied Universal (Europe) -544,096

Commentary

With the exception of #15 Allied Universal, all in the list of top 15 security companies are profitable.

Bidvest rank #1 with £228 million profit. But, this should be seen in context; it’s a global services and trading group of companies based in South Africa. Therefore, much of their profit may not come from security.

#2 Mitie is a UK based group of companies. It considers itself number one in security with 29% of its business in security.

#3 OCS merged with Atalian Servest. Therefore, 2022 numbers are not available. As a result, their profit of £19.5 million reflects their 2021 profit.

2. Can a security company pay people it owes?

Can a security company pay people it owes? Some companies make a profit but go bust because they can’t access funds quickly enough to pay people they owe. This is a question of its short-term financial strength and helps us know if it’s the best security company to work for or, with.

The best way to tell if a security company can pay people it owes is something called the quick ratio:

Current Assets less Inventory / Current Liabilities

Any result more than 1 is good and below 1 is bad

Security companies that can pay people they owe

Rank Security Company  Can it pay people it owes?
1 TSS Yes: 1.64
2 Amberstone Yes: 1.46
3 OCS Group UK Yes: 1.45
4 I.C.T.S. (U.K.) Yes: 1.44
5 Wilson James Yes: 1.42
6 SecuriGroup Yes: 1.40
7 CIS Security Yes: 1.34
8 ISS Yes: 1.33
9 Carlisle Security Yes: 1.22
10 Allied Universal Yes: 1.09
11 SSGC Yes: 1.03
12 Corps Security Yes: 1.03
13 Kingdom Security Caution: 0.97
14 Mitie Caution: 0.93
15 Bidvest Noonan Caution 0.86

Commentary

The table shows three security companies may struggle to pay people it owes:

  • #13 Kingdom
  • #14 Mitie
  • #15 Bidvest

Although all these companies are profitable, they may not get access to money when they need it.  Therefore, it’s wise to apply caution. However, the majority of the top 15 UK security companies can pay people they owe. 

Bidvest is #1 for profit but ranks #15 because it has lots of money tied up in stock/inventory, which it may not be able to sell quickly enough to pay people it owes.

What security companies can pay people they owe? Bar chart

3. Can a security company make money from its sales?

Can a security company make money from its sales? Put another way, for each pound it receives in sales, how many pence does it make? This is a measure of a company’s efficiency and it’s key to business success. We work it out by subtracting cost from sales:

Sales less cost of sales & administration cost

Pence in the pound top security companies make

Rank Security Company  Pence in the £
1 Bidvest 10 pence
2 Amberstone 7 pence
3 SecuriGroup 5 pence
4 Wilson James 4 pence
5 CIS Security 3 pence
6 ISS 3 pence
7 TSS 3 pence
8 Kingdom Security 2 pence
9 I.C.T.S. (U.K.) 2 pence
10 OCS Group UK 2 pence
11 Mitie 1 pence
12 Corps Security 1 pence
13 Carlisle Security 1 pence
14 SSGC 0 pence
15 Allied Universal -2 pence

Commentary

The table shows a big difference in the efficiency of security companies. For example, while the least efficient company is #15 Allied Universal with two pence lost in each pound, #1 Bidvest makes 10 pence for each pound it receives.  

Unlike Bidvest, Amberstone at #2 focus exclusively on security. They put their impressive performance (7 pence in each pound) down to ‘specific software packages to ensure quality of service, improve profit margins and control costs.’

Mitie ranks high for profit #2, but #11 for efficiency; it makes only 1 pence in each pound.

On average, security companies make 3 pence in each pound.

Pence the top 15 most profitable security companies make in the pound: Bar chart.

4. Can a security company make money from its employees?

Can a security company make money from its employees is another way of asking, are its workforce productive? Because security companies mostly provide security officers, it’s key their people are productive. Moreover, it helps us know if it’s the best security company to work for.

It’s easy to work out if a security company is productive:

Profit / number of employees

It’s worth noting that some security companies subcontract their labour need and therefore, may make money without a lot of employees. However, in the main, security companies are human heavy and need to make money from their people.

How much security companies make from each employee

Rank Security Company   £ per employee 
1 Amberstone 2,930
2 Wilson James 1,566
3 ISS 1,426
4 OCS Group UK 1,240
5 SecuriGroup 1,177
6 CIS Security 1,122
7 Kingdom security 858
8 Mitie 745
9 I.C.T.S. (U.K.) 742
10 TSS 449
11 Corps Security 251
12 Carlisle Security 209
13 SSGC 73
14 Bidvest Noonan 43
15 Allied Universal -1,198

Commentary

On average each person makes £775 per annum profit for a security company. Notable exceptions to this are three companies that make less than £75 profit per person:

  • #13 SSGC
  • #14 Bidvest
  • #15 Allied Universal

Amberstone at #1 stands out because it makes nearly double the profit of the next best security company #2 Wilson James. This kind of impressive profit number suggests profit from another sector, most likely technology.

By way of contrast, Bidvest employs nearly twice as many people as the technology company Facebook, and makes £43 per employee. Whereas, Facebook makes around £210,000 per employee!

5. Can a security company pay its finance interest?

Many security companies fund their growth by borrowing money, we call this finance debt. When a company takes on borrowing it has to pay interest on that debt. Sometimes, the interest sum cannot be paid by profits and then the company can be in trouble. That’s why it’s important to see if a security company can pay its finance debt.

It’s easy to work out if a security company can pay its finance debt:

Operating profit / interest

Any result more than 1 is good and below 1 is bad.

How many times over can the security company pay their finance interest?

Rank Security Company Times it can pay its finance interest

1

ISS

869

2 CIS Security 104
3 Kingdom security 71
4 Wilson James 54
5 SecuriGroup 45
6 I.C.T.S. (U.K.) 34
7 TSS 20
8 Carlisle Security 17
9 Corps Security 12
10 Bidvest Noonan 6
11 Mitie 4
12 SSGC 3
13 Allied Universal Caution -7
14 OCS Group UK No debt to pay
15 Amberstone Security No debt to pay

Commentary

Amberstone and OCS have no finance interest to pay and therefore, this measure doesn’t apply to them. Whereas, some companies such as ISS have good profits and very little interest to pay, hence they’re at #1 with interest covered 869 times!

Most security companies have good profits with low finance debt, the average cover is 95. However, as #13 Universal made no profit and have finance interest to pay, they will need to pay their finance interest from previous year’s profits or re-negotiate their debt.

 

Frequently asked questions

Group companies: Who’s in charge?

Group companies such as Mitie, own / control lots of different companies. It takes all the financial results of these companies and adds them together to get their Mitie profit. As a result, most people work with or for one of these different companies, not the overall Mitie group company. Therefore, to tell if your employer or provider is the best security company to work for or with is less easy; you could ask the specific company’s financial results or ask for a parent company guarantee. In addition, look at which directors sit on the company’s board. If they sit on both the group and smaller company board then this may show greater buy-in.

How profitable is security?

Because many companies do more than just security, we can’t say exactly how much profit they make from security alone.

What period does this cover?

Because not all companies have published their 2023 results, we only look at 2022. However, this will be updated – subscribe to receive update notification.

Can I reproduce content?

Reproduction of the ‘Top 15 most profitable UK security companies by SIRV’ requires prior written permission from the producers thereof. Get in touch to find out more. 

Errors

Every effort is made to accurately reflect public accounts however, typological errors do occur. Therefore, if an error is found please get in touch.

Summary

The safe, profitable security company is one that makes money, pays their bills on time and is efficient; these are the top security companies. But as we show, some companies such as Bidvest make lots of money but appear inefficient. Therefore, they may not be the best security company to work for. In any event, we recommend consideration longer than one year is made – we will update this post accordingly.

If you like this article on profit you may also like Jeff Bezos’ 5 tips to grow your security company and 3 ways to step your clients killing your profit margin.

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