Australia / Press Releases
IBISWorld names Top 500 Companies of 2017-18

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by Media Team
Sep 06 2018

Australia’s largest industry research company, IBISWorld, has named the Top 500 private companies for 2017-18. Published in the Australian Financial Review, the annual list is generated to provide a glimpse into the changing dynamics of the Australian economy and its effect on industry. According to IBISWorld, the Top 500 companies generated $219.6 trillion in revenue,[1] which is down 0.3% from 2016-17. Close to a quarter of the list posted lower revenue over the year, which is due to the decline of industries such as Newspaper and Book Retailing and Livestock and Other Agricultural Supplies Wholesaling in Australia. Of note, almost 10% of the companies in the 2017-18 Top 500 are new to the annual list, demonstrating the significant changes occurring across the economy.


Best performing companies

The Walter & Eliza Hall Institute posted the largest rise, with a staggering 282.2% growth in revenue. The company operates in the Scientific Research Services industry, which also grew by 3.6% in 2017-18.

“This standout performance was primarily driven by royalties from the monetisation of their latest cancer treatment, Venetoclax, which generated over $331 million in operating revenue. As a result, The Walter & Eliza Hall Institute has jumped from rank 416 last year to 130 in 2017-18,” said IBISWorld Senior Industry Analyst, Jason Aravanis.

Another standout performer is Lipman, which operates across the construction sector. Lipman’s revenue grew by 67.4% in 2017-18 due to its multiple expansions across New South Wales, which is also reflected in a significant jump in total employment. “Lipman’s growth is particularly notable given that the Construction industry declined by 2.0% in 2017-18. This industry has been limited by a marked deterioration in non-building construction activity, and lower demand from major mining and engineering construction projects,” said Mr. Aravanis.

Labour recruitment and management company, Workpac Group, jumped from 49th in 2016-17 to 30th this financial year. The increasing reliance on outsourcing for recruitment across the economy, particularly from professional service industries and the healthcare sector, has led to strong organic growth for Workpac Group, with the company’s revenue increasing by 44.2% in 2017-18. “In contrast, the Employment Placement and Recruitment Services industry grew by only 3.8% in 2017-18, highlighting the remarkable outperformance of Workpac Group, which continues to be the highest ranked company in the recruitment sector,” said Mr. Aravanis.

The strong performance of RSEA, a nationwide retailer of safety clothing and equipment, has seen revenue increase by over 40% in 2017-18. The Safety Equipment and Supplies Distributors industry grew by 1.7% in 2017-18, as growth in the construction, healthcare, and transport sectors offset lower demand from mining and manufacturing. “RSEA’s access to proprietary local and international brands, and full integration with its business-to-business distribution infrastructure, has allowed the company to expand rapidly, helping RSEA jump 79 places to reach 362 in this year’s list,” said Mr. Aravanis.

Apco Service Stations has continued its 2016-17 revival in 2017-18, after posting revenue declines in 2014-15 and 2015-16. “Apco’s performance is typical of firms in the Fuel Retailing industry, which is highly exposed to the world price of crude oil,” said Mr. Aravanis. Apco’s revenue grew by 35.6% in 2017-18, reflecting the strong growth in oil prices. This led to significantly higher wholesale fuel costs, which have been passed on to consumers through price growth. Unfortunately, Apco’s profitability has not benefited from this trend. Apco’s rank increased by 42, to reach 155 in 2017-18.


Worst performing companies

Queensland Sugar Limited, a consortium of 23 sugar growers and 7 millers, posted the largest revenue decline on the 2017-18 Top 500, falling from 10th place last year to 54th this year. “The consortium’s revenue fell by 62.3% in 2017-18, as a number of growers of bulk raw sugar elected to market their own product, rather than relying on Queensland Sugar Limited as a wholesaler,” said Mr. Aravanis. According to IBISWorld, this is an example of wholesale bypass, which is a growing threat to the Livestock and Other Agricultural Supplies Wholesaling industry.

“As an ongoing demonstration of the decline of the Newspaper and Book Retailing industry, the significant decline of Newspower Newsagents in 2017-18 highlights the difficulty in succeeding in a declining industry,” said Mr. Aravanis. Newspower Newsagents’ revenue declined by 10.7% in 2017-18 and fell 57 places in 2017-18 to 169th, due to the closure of 60 stores. Declining sales of printed publications, and increasing competition from online retailers, have placed enormous pressure on firms like Newspower Newsagents. Across the industry, revenue declined at an annualised 4.7% over the five years through 2017-18. “Competition from external operators, including supermarkets and department stores, has also affected industry trading conditions,” said Mr. Aravanis.

“The weak performance of Summit Homes Group in 2017-18 demonstrates the rapid impact regulation change can have on construction businesses,” said Mr. Aravanis. Summit Homes Group posted a 16.5% revenue decline in 2017-18, which is attributable to the decline of the residential building market in Western Australia. The House Construction industry has been hindered due to new restrictions on foreign investment that were introduced in the 2017-18 budget, such as the 50% cap on foreign ownership in new developments. Additionally, APRA has taken steps to limit lending to investors, and also interest-only loans.


Companies mentioned in this release (in order of mention)


Revenue 2017-18 ($m)

Revenue change

Rank (and change)

Walter & Eliza Hall Institute



130 (+286)

Lipman Pty Ltd



238 (+104)

Workpac Group



30 (+19)

RSEA Pty Ltd



362 (+79)

Apco Services Stations Pty Ltd



155 (+42)

Queensland Sugar Limited



54 (-44)

Newspower Newsagents



169 (-57)

Summit Homes Group



322 (-69)


Industries mentioned in this release:




For more information, to obtain industry reports, or to speak with an analyst, please contact:

Kim Do

Strategic Media Advisor – IBISWorld Pty Ltd
Tel: (03) 9906 3641 Mobile: 0422 773 995


[1] All figures are unadjusted for inflation.