Cambridgeshire Ltd: Report shows double digit profit growth for top firms

Cambridgeshire’s top 100 businesses delivered double digit growth of turnover and profits in the last 12 months, with tech firms leading the way when it comes to delivering high value jobs.

So says the latest edition of the Cambridgeshire Ltd study, which is conducted annually by business and financial advisers Grant Thornton  in partnership with national law firm Mills & Reeve.

The in-depth analysis of Cambridgeshire’s 100 largest businesses shows combined profits (measured by EBITDA – Earnings before tax, interest, depreciation and amortisation) rose by a substantial 16.7 per cent, to £780m. This was generated by 94 businesses, two more than the previous year. Total turnover for Cambridgeshire Ltd’s constituent members also rose by an impressive 10.3 per cent to £10.7bn, with more than three quarters of firms (76) reporting sales increases.

Employment levels for the 100 companies rose by 6.3% (2,935 jobs) to 49,263 people, while the average salary of those employed by the top 100 companies increased by 3.2 per cent to £30,500. This tracks but does not exceed the national rate of inflation, as seen in previous years, so real wage levels are maintained. Technology continued to be the highest paid sector with an average wage of £47,600, up two per cent.

Commenting on the results, report author Paul Brown, director at Grant Thornton’s Cambridge office, said: “In 2017, we saw strong growth with the rewards of previous investments paying off. The challenge for business leaders was to carry this forward. The 2018 results clearly demonstrate that Cambridgeshire’s leading companies are indeed delivering, consistent, sustained growth.

“There have been some acquisitions during the year but much of the turnover increase has been achieved organically as companies extend their market share, product or service offering or generally benefit from higher levels of activity. Growth is also, on the whole, well spread across companies, underlining the vibrancy of Cambridgeshire’s diverse economy.

“Overall, another impressive performance by our county’s businesses. Cambridgeshire is an exciting place to be and whilst there are many pressures in the logistics and infrastructure of our county, we are seeing businesses thrive.”

The Cambridgeshire Ltd report also analysed a breakdown of the financial data by location. Unsurprisingly Cambridge led the way with the highest level of sales at £4bn and profits of £310m. However, Peterborough is the most profitable area on a pound for pound basis, boasts the most top 100 companies at 27 and delivered the fastest profit growth at 31 per cent. There is also a broad mix of sectors across all districts, with just one exception being the notable concentration of technology companies in the South, again emphasising Cambridgeshire’s robust and sustainable business model.

Stephen Hamilton, partner at Mills & Reeve’s Cambridge office, added: “Generally, performance was strong across the county and reflects our ‘Defying Gravity’ report which shows how businesses that have thrived through a decade of disruption are different in three key ways – they are fearless about growth, they do not pause too long in the face of change and they are confident in their ability to find the right sources of finance.

We have great examples of these businesses across the region and the Cambridgeshire Ltd report clearly demonstrates this.”

During the briefing event held at The Cambridge Belfry, Cambourne, Stephen Hamilton shared further insights from the Mills & Reeve’s ‘Defying Gravity’ report series, looking at how forward-thinking businesses can achieve growth in uncertain times. Adam Jackson head of Public Affairs at Grant Thornton also discussed the current political and economic landscape.

The report follows last month’s release of the 2018 Norfolk Ltd study.

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