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16 November, 2017 - 11:54 By Tony Quested

Cambs business profits surge ahead of UK growth rate

Cambridgeshire Ltd Grant Thornton

Business is booming for Cambridgeshire companies with profits surging ahead of the UK national growth rate.

The booming bottom line is revealed in Grant Thornton’s Cambridgeshire Ltd study – delivered in partnership with Cambridge-based national law firm, Mills & Reeve.

Combined profits (measured by EBITDA - Earnings before tax, interest, depreciation and amortisation), soared 18.3 per cent to £749 million. This was generated by 92 businesses, 10 more than the previous year. 

Total turnover for Cambridgeshire Ltd’s constituent members also rose substantially, up 15.8 per cent to £10.25 billion, with 80 per cent of businesses reporting higher sales.

Sector-wise, the automotive industry is in the driving seat – the largest sector with turnover of £2.756bn. Automotive also saw the highest turnover increase of 32.4 per cent with the sector’s strong performance primarily due to an acquisition by Marshall of Cambridge. 

However, the fastest growing company was Macxchange in St Ives which achieved an impressive 172 per cent increase in sales. The company sells computers, peripheral units and software in specialised stores.

Cambridgeshire companies are also boosting job figures: Employment levels for the 100 companies rose by 6.3 per cent (3,289 jobs) to 55,170 people. The Business Support Services sector remained the largest employer (30 per cent of total) at 16,664 people, up nine per cent. Job increases were seen across the majority of sectors, the notable exception being Manufacturing (down 15.3 per cent).

Pay is also on the up. The average salary of those employed by the top 100 companies increased by 4.4 per cent to £28,000 (UK average of £27,600). Bucking national trends, this is above the rate of inflation meaning people are benefitting from a rise in real wages.

Technology continues to be the highest paid sector with an average wage of £46,400 (up 11.2 per cent), with Food & Beverage the lowest at £19,800 per annum.

Paul Brown, director at Grant Thornton’s Cambridge office, said: “The 2017 study shows the investments made last year in people, capacity and operations are already generating returns and opportunities for businesses and people.

“Growth for Cambridgeshire’s 100 largest businesses is far outstripping the UK national growth rate of 0.4 per cent and this once again demonstrates what a vibrant economy Cambridgeshire offers.

“This vibrancy is reflected by the substantial changes to the top 100 companies, with 22 new entrants across a range of sectors. This is a natural and healthy regeneration of Cambridgeshire Ltd – mature businesses change ownership and a new generation of high growth companies push their way through.

“Investment amongst the 100 largest firms is also continuing with fixed assets up 19 per cent to £1,280m and employment rising considerably. This underwrites the confidence levels our county’s businesses are reporting despite the uncertainty of Brexit negotiations.”

• PHOTOGRAPH: Cambridgeshire Ltd 2017 results unveiled. Back row, left to right: Ian Mathers, Mills & Reeve; Darren Bear, Grant Thornton; Neil Hammill, Cambridge Commodities. Front row, left to right: Paul Brown, Grant Thornton, James Palmer, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough; Anne Bailey, Form the Future and Faye Holland, Cofinitive.

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