BAE Systems Submarines has topped a list of the 100 hottest companies in Cumbria.

Compiled by the in-Cumbria team and published in the April edition of the monthly magazine, the Barrow-based specialist manufacturer of nuclear submarines came out on top in its first ever focus on the businesses it believes are blazing a trail.

It finished ahead of Carlisle-headquartered global agricultural and engineering business, Carr’s Group and Burneside-based paper, packaging and non-woven material manufacturer, James Cropper.

In Cumbria: James CropperJames Cropper

Stobart Group, which has its operational headquarters based at Carlisle Lake District Airport – which will see commercial flights start in July – came fourth and business support organisations Cumbria Chamber of Commerce completed the top five.

In Cumbria: Rob Johnston, of Cumbria Chamber of CommerceRob Johnston, of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce

The Hot 100 list is the first-ever list compiled by specialist business magazine in-Cumbria.

It considered the impact businesses are having now, their future potential, the innovations that are making as well as the world-class products and services they are delivering.

BAE Systems Submarines topped the list due to the complexity of the engineering challenges it undertakes; the national significance of its work and the significant economic and social impact it has on Barrow and Cumbria at large – in terms of employment and supply chains.

Paul Ethell, HR director for BAE Systems in Barrow said: “We're delighted at the news.

“The submarine programme is a national endeavour and Cumbria plays a huge part in this.

"The work here is very much a team effort involving a network of suppliers in Cumbria, the wider north and across the UK.

“Last year we spent over £700m with suppliers, so the impact BAE Systems has on the economy is huge. These are exciting times for our business, with fantastic employment opportunities.”

Carr’s Group featured highly due to its continued growth, which includes a major contract win for Bendalls Engineering at Sellafield and the ongoing international expansion of its engineering division into the United States and Germany.

Its engineering arm designs and manufactures bespoke equipment, supplies robotics and remote handling products to industries including nuclear, petrochemical, oil and gas, pharmaceutical, process and renewable energy.

The continued growth in its sales of animal feed blocks in the UK and overseas was also a factor along with the success of its Carrs Billington business, for which the group is best known.

In Cumbria: Tim Davies Tim Davies

Tim Davies, chief executive of Carr’s Group, which has been headquartered in the city since 1831, said: “To be recognised as one of the region’s top-performing businesses is a great honour.

“We are a diverse company and the breadth of our product offering, the investments we make in acquisitions and research, and our international footprint leaves us well positioned for further growth across both divisions.

“We are proud to be a Cumbrian company with a history of winning business and buying companies outside the county.

"Today we supply customers in over 50 countries across the world and half of our profits are generated overseas. Our roots are in Cumbria, but our outlook is global.”

James Cropper came third due to the innovative work it undertakes at its iconic factory in the small village just outside Kendal.

While best known for manufacturing high-quality paper, it featured highly due to its word-leading CupCycling venture, environmentally friendly COLOURFORM moulded fibre packaging and the cutting-edge non-woven fabrics produced for a wide range of industries by its offshoot Technical Fibre Products.

James Cropper chief executive Phil Wild, said: "We're delighted to be featured so highly and amongst such fantastic businesses – an absolute honour.

“A prestige paper innovator for over 170 years, James Cropper weathered the decline in papermaking of the 70s and 80s through an insatiable appetite for innovation; and we can thank that same innovative spirit for our most recent triumphs.

“We have seen outstanding performance from our Technical Fibre Products business. In fact, TFP won the Best Manufacturing and Best Innovation accolades at the most recent in-Cumbria Business Awards – a testament to the creative spirit of our business."

Associated British Ports North West – which owns and operates the Port of Barrow and Port of Silloth – finished in sixth.

Division port manager, Carl Bevan, said: “We are delighted to have been recognised by in-Cumbria magazine and this is down to the sheer hard work and commitment of our colleagues and outstanding relationships with other port users, such as UDS and Bay Towage.

In Cumbria: Carl BevanCarl Bevan

“ABP’s Cumbrian ports play a vital role in the regional economy and support a diverse range of economic sectors such as energy and defence and a host of businesses including BAE Systems, Orsted and Kimberly-Clark.

“Silloth also services important businesses such as Origin fertiliser and Whitworth’s flour mill and therefore supports thousands of Cumbrian jobs.

"A recent example of our important work was a cargo of pipes from Turkey that will be used for United Utilities water supplies project.

“Cumbria’s ports are thriving, and it is great to see ABP Barrow and Silloth scoring highly in Cumbria’s Hot 100 businesses.”

Elsewhere, business membership organisation Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster, came in at 12th and Ulverston-based Oxley Group and Bender UK at 13 and 21 respectively.

In Cumbria: John GraingerJohn Grainger

John Grainger, executive director of BECBC, said: “BECBC is absolutely delighted to be placed 12th in the Hot 100.

"This is surely recognition of the brand and image that we have built over recent years and is both testament and a tribute to our 300-plus companies ranging from large multi-national organisations to micro businesses in Cumbria.

"It is particularly welcome announcement coming as it does exactly at the time that we celebrate our 15th anniversary. “

In the tourism and hospitality sector, English Lakes Hotel came 11th and Winander Leisure Limited – which operates Windermere Lake Cruises and Lakeland Motor Museum – 17th.

Innovative business Rovtech Solutions was the smallest business to make the top 25, lying at 21.

Luke Dicicco, editor of in-Cumbria and group editor for Newsquest Cumbria, said that deciding on the Hot 100 had been tough.

“The in-Cumbria team is constantly astounded by businesses in the county,” he said.

“We wanted to bring all of this together in the Hot 100 list, and to celebrate the small operations and unknown entities as well as the big players, who are all making a real difference to Cumbria’s economy and stature in the business world.

“And the beauty is, if we look at this in six months' or a year's time it could look very different. That really does say something about the health and vibrancy of business in Cumbria.”

To read the full Hot 100 feature, read the emag here