A NORTHWICH-based company has topped the 16th annual Sunday Times BDO Profit Track 100 league table for the north west.

The table ranks the north west's private companies with the fastest-growing profits over the past three years.

Gadrook Park-based online retailer The Hut Group principally sells branded and own-brand health and beauty products through websites that include Lookfantastic, Myprotein and Exante Diet.

It grew profits an average of 217 per cent a year to £16m in 2014, before exceptional costs, on £248m of sales.

Private equity firm KKR paid £100m for a 20 per cent stake in the group last year.

The Profit Track 100 is sponsored by BDO, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking and UBS Wealth Management. It is compiled by Fast Track, the Oxford-based research and networking events firm.

Eleven companies headquartered in the north west made a strong contribution to the local economy, achieving combined profits of £98m and employing 5,000 staff -1,200 of which were created in the past three years.

Tim Entwistle, partner and head of the north west at BDO, the title sponsor of the league table, said: “Medium-sized businesses in the north west and across the UK are thriving. Our newly-named ‘Brittelstand’ has outgrown the German ‘Mittelstand’ with mid-market businesses across all sectors seizing the opportunities a growing economy presents. The north west’s most profitable companies have remained focused on sustainable growth by making intelligent investment decisions in innovation and overseas expansion.”

Coming in at number 53 is Oliver Valvetek of Knutsford - a Subsea valve manufacturer. Its HQ houses a steam engine formerly owned by cult TV presenter Fred Dibnah.