A HOST of local employers have been named among the best in the country.

Ringwood-based developer Churchill Retirement Living took third place in the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For.

It was praised for staff benefits, wellbeing initiatives and special events such as last summer’s Farm Fest, which saw chairman and chief executive Spencer McCarthy invite staff and their families to celebrate the company’s 25th anniversary at his New Forest home.

Its charitable arm, the Churchill Foundation, ran fundraising initiatives including a “sleep out” which raised more than £25,000 for End Youth Homelessness.

Mr McCarthy said: “This is the fifth year in a row that we’ve been named as one of the UK’s best companies to work for, as voted for by our own colleagues, and I’m delighted with our top three position.

“It’s a fantastic achievement and something every single member of the team can be proud of.

“My brother Clinton and I run the business based on strong family values and I’ve said many times that our fantastic team of people – the Churchill family – are the key to our success. I believe in looking after my team and treating them well, so it’s great to see that recognised with this award.”

Churchill, which came second last year, employs 347 people and reported revenue of £208.6million.

Rick Stein Group, which has a restaurant at Sandbanks, entered the list at at number 55.

Christchurch-based Hobbycraft entered the parallel list of the 25 Best Big Companies to Work For at number five.

The arts and crafts retailer, which has 2,184 staff across 100 sites, introduced an extra day’s holiday for birthdays last year, while 95 per cent of staff received a pay rise. Staff are given double-discount days, offering 50 per cent off products.

Poole-based energy supplier Utility Point was a new entry at number 91 on the list of the 100 Best Small Companies to Work For.

Chief financial officer and co-owner Simon Yarwood said: “This is a credit to everyone involved with the company. They have all worked tremendously hard over the last two years, building the brand and making the business the success it is today.

“The journey has only just begun, and our Utility Point family should be very proud of themselves.”

The Poole children’s hospice charity Julia’s House took the number 12 position in the Best Not for Profit Organisations, up from number 36 last year.

The charity gave a pay rise to 99 per cent of staff last year and staff gave it a 90 per cent positive score.

Bournemouth-based social housing provider Stonewater was number 67 among the non-profits, up from 78.

It has 751 staff in nine locations.

The overall best employer to work for was London marketing agency MVF, which has 411 staff.

The best big company to work for was the children’s nursery business Childbase Partnership, while the rest of the top 10 were Coventry Building Society, Admiral Group, Roche, BT Consumer, Marriott Hotels International, Skipton Building Society, Arcadis and UK Power Networks.