Not wishing to reignite the old “there was no year zero” debate over when the decade ends, it’s time to review the last 10 years.

Specifically, it is time to review the winners and losers of the decade that I suppose we are obliged to call the “teens” – well, it sounds better than the “oneties”.

The best performer in terms of share price appreciation will, I think, come as a surprise to most of us (unless you’ve been peeking at similar end-of-decade articles in lesser publications) and I am prepared to test this hypothesis by listing the top 20 performers of the “teens” and letting you pick which one you think is the winner.

Here we go:

4imprint Group, AdEPT Technology, Anglo Asian Mining, Ashtead Group, Avon Rubber, Braime (T F & J H), Creightons, Dart Group, Games Workshop, GB Group, GlobalData, Hutchison China Meditech, JD Sports Fashion, Judges Scientific, PPHE Hotel Group, Renew Holdings, Restore, Solid State, Somero Enterprises, YouGov.

While you are mulling that little lot, spare a thought for shareholders in the 149 companies that were more or less wiped out in the decade.

By wiped out, we mean losses of 90% or more; there are, as you might expect, a plethora of resource exploration and biotech stocks in the list of failures but also at least two former FTSE 350 stocks: Mothercare PLC (LON:MTC), down 97%, and Tullow Oil PLC (LON:TLW), down 94%. Kier Group PLC (LON:KIE), with a decline of 89%, just about avoided inclusion in the House of Pain.

The big reveal

So, on to the revelation of the glamour stock of the decade.

Step forward, Judges Scientific PLC (LON:JDG), with a gain of 4,640%.

From a share price of 120p at the end of the noughties to a share price of around 5,660p now and a market capitalisation of £352mln, the “buy and build” specialist focused on scientific instrument businesses is still far from being a household name.

It does not seem to be running out of steam, either; this year it has risen by 136%.

In the silver medal position with a very creditable gain of 3,590% since 1/1/2010 is GB Group PLC (LON:GBG), the global data identity intelligence specialist.

The company has been around since the bubble burst and was something of a slow burn in the noughties but since around 2012 the share price has started motoring, in sync with the explosion in mobile computing.

With the collapse of Thomas Cook still fresh in the mind, the bronze medal winner might – or might not – come as a surprise: it is Dart Group PLC (LON:DTG), the company behind the Jet2 package tour and airline businesses.

The shares rose 3,330% in the decade, with the most eye-catching jump occurring since 30 August of this year, when the shares were trading at 752p – they now trade at 1,700p.

It was around about the end of August that everyone knew Dart’s heavyweight rival Thomas Cook was drinking in the last chance saloon, as it desperately struggled to raise new finance to whittle away at its debt mountain.

Thomas Cook collapsed and Dart Group soared. Over the same period (August to December), while Dart’s share price was more than doubling, fellow package tour and airline operator TUI AG (LON:TUI) rose just 16%, leaving little doubt who the market regards as the main beneficiary of Thomas Cook’s demise.

Just outside the medal positions was a sportswear retailer – calm down Mr Ashley, it is not you. It’s JD Sports Fashion PLC (LON:JD.), with a 3,150% increase.

While its rival SportsDirect – sorry, Frasers Group (if Mike Ashley ever takes it private, will it becalled Private Fraser and will it thus be dooooooomed?) – gains most of the headlines, JD gains the plaudits as a very classy operator.

In a decade where retailers have really got it in the neck, it is interesting to see two retailers in the top 10, with the other being tabletop wargaming firm Games Workshop Group PLC (LON:GAW), which racked up a 2,300% increase (which earnt it eighth place).

The last constituent of the top five was tool hire group Ashtead Group PLC (LON:AHT), with a 2,900% increase.

The company’s shares pretty much flatlined in the noughties but the current decade has been another matter.

The company took its name from the Surrey village where it was founded in 1947 but it has been the company’s Sunbelt business in the USA that has driven its growth of late.

Top 10 performers of the current decade




% change since 2/1/10

Market capitalisation




Judges Scientific PLC



Electronic & Electrical Equipment



GB Group PLC



Software & Computer Services



Dart Group PLC



Travel & Leisure



JD Sports Fashion PLC



General Retailers



Ashtead Group PLC



Industrial Transportation



4imprint Group PLC






Creightons PLC



Household Goods & Home Construction



Games Workshop Group PLC



Leisure Goods



Avon Rubber PLC



Aerospace & Defence



Hutchison China Meditech Ltd



Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology