The Private Plums survey, by corporate finance specialist Results International and consultancy Fintellect, ranks 70 companies, all of which made a minimum gross income of £2.5m.
The companies are rated on criteria including operating profit, staff costs and current assets.
The highest-ranked design group is Radley Yeldar, which comes in at eighth place. Other consultancies listed include: Jones Knowles Ritchie, up to 11th from 19th place; Pentagram, which is placed 12th, having not been ranked last year; and retail specialist Checkland Kindleysides, up to 13th place from 18th.
The highest-ranked firm in the survey is sales promotion and direct marketing specialist Simpson Mahoney Parrock, which is the only business to be awarded the maximum eight Plums.
Keith Hunt, managing partner of Results International, says, ‘The numbers were principally for 2009 – the worst year of the recession. Conventional wisdom would say that design suffers more than other areas in a recession, so all credit to the companies involved.
‘The design market has been under pressure for a few years now, so I suspect that the design companies had improved their business models ahead of the recession.’