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29 June, 2006 - 23:54 By Staff Reporter

Region fails to impress in national rankings

The East of England's biggest private company, aerospace and motor business Marshall of Cambridge, comes in at a relatively lowly 56th in a league table of the 100 biggest in the country - the Sunday Times KPMG Top Track 100.

Published this weekend, the annual league table will also show that there is a disappointing absence of headway since last year, with the East of England contributing a grand total of three companies to the Top Track 100, the same figure as 2005.

This showing is put into perspective by London, the location for 27 of the top 100. Only Wales has fewer representatives among the elite privately-owned businesses, with two.

Now in its fifth year, the table ranks Britain’s one hundred biggest private companies by latest sales.

The region’s worldwide reputation for its tech and biotech industries, is not reflected in the world of the privately-owned business. Of the other two Eastern firms represented, Bernard Matthews in Norwich is famously a food producer, while BOCM Pauls in Ipswich makes animal feed.

The league table shows that this region's private companies just cannot compete when it comes to the numbers game.The three firms in the Top Track directly employ over 11,700 staff and achieved combined sales of £1.4bn in their last financial year when they made profits of £52m.

Impressive until you consider that the combined figure for the top 100 is £106bn for turnover and 887,000 for direct employees.

Marshall, which is owned by chairman, Michael Marshall and family trusts, maintains military and civilian aircraft, and also has a chain of 42 car dealerships in Southeast England. It made an operating profit of £10m on turnover of £605m, employing 3628.

Bernard Matthews, which ranked 86th nationally, is repositioning itself as a healthier brand focused on low-fat products after celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s campaign against turkey twizzlers last year. After 30 years on the stock market, founder Bernard Matthews took the Norfolk firm private in 2001 and oversaw annualised sales of £450m in 2005, with profits of £39m and 7083 employees.

Britain’s largest producer of animal feeds, BOCM Pauls, squeezed into the Top Track 100 this year at No. 99, with sales of £386m. BOCM produces two million tonnes of feed annually at 14 food mills across the UK.

Steve Liddell, senior partner in the East for KPMG, the title sponsors of the league table said: “Marshall is a great example for the region’s businesses to aspire to, and I hope that the region will be even more strongly represented next year.”

Most of the companies on the league table are based in London (27) and the Midlands (25), while a fifth are headquartered in the Southeast (20). The remainder of the regional breakdown is as follows: North (12), Scotland (6), East (4), Southwest (4) and Wales (2).

 

 

 

 

 

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