AFR's top 500
(Image: Rooty Hill RSL/Facebook)

The Australian Financial Review this morning released its annual list of Australia’s top 500 private companies. The glamour of being included is already slightly dimmed by the fact the list is topped by a company that makes boxes (Visy with a revenue of $6.9 billion), and the fact that a suburban RSL also managed to make the list (Rooty Hill RSL in at 499 with $94.08 million — just don’t ask them where they got the money). To which I say, hey, shoot for the stars, Thornlie Bowls Club.

Coming in at 435 is Sanity Entertainment, a DVD and CD retailer which, surprisingly, both still exists and remains a thing, despite it being 2019. Along similar lines, it may just be my advancing years that brought about the shock I felt finding out Rip Curl pulled in $486.49 million last year, to rank at a very respectable 124; clearly the twin market share of surfers and 13-year-olds choosing their own clothes for the first time is more lucrative than I realised.

Thermomix Australia, on the other hand, managed to make substantially less than either of them ($100.05 million), despite costing roughly as much as Imelda Marcos’ shoe budget and achieving the dream of being brand-name-synonymous-with-actual-thing, like Band Aids or Esky. Has the Aldi knock-off — the magnificently named Mistral Ultimate Kitchen Machine — had such an immediate impact?

In other ranking surprises, how dispiriting it must be for soccer fans in Australia (among all the things that are dispiriting about it) to see that Football Federation Australia (rank 421, $130.48 million) is easily beaten by several individual Toyota dealerships. And I wouldn’t have guessed that the combined revenue of 306-ranked NOVA Entertainment (or, as I call it, “the Uber default”) and CPA Australia at 354 (which sounds fancy and involves money) would be considerably less than those purveyors of warm disappointment Bakers Delight — rank 72 with $736 million.

Finally — fans of foam sex pest Captain GetUp rejoice: Advance Australia’s great culture war financier, Sam Kennard’s storage empire Kennards Hire, attained a rank of 150 $427.12 million. And, given you know they were competing, Julie Bishop has to settle for silver in the “just how potentially lucrative is my not at all compromising post-parliament job” stakes against Christopher Pyne. Pyne’s new bosses at EY ranked at 18 with $1.89 billion, while Bishop’s Palladium Group made only 128 with a comparatively modest $481.95 million.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey