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15 November, 2023 - 16:22 By News Desk

Soaring Suffolk as top private firms’ turnover rises to £6.7bn

Logistics specialist Turners in Soham is one of the companies helping to drive the performance of Suffolk-based private firms into an economic fast lane.

Grant Thornton’s 22nd annual Suffolk Limited report, produced in conjunction with law firm Birketts, shows that the headline turnover of the county’s top private firms surged to £6.7 billion.

The region’s top performer, Turners (Soham) Holdings Limited, retained its position at the head of the list for the sixth consecutive year, showing year on year revenue growth of 15.22 per cent.

The top five largest private-owned companies in Suffolk are Turners (Soham) Holdings; Maritime Transport; East of England Co-operative Society; A.J.N. Steelstock and John Grose Group.

The consumer products sector is strongly represented across the region’s top 100 companies, with 39 businesses in the sector generating £3.2bn in sales. 

This is followed by real estate and construction (£1.2bn), services (£1.1bn) and industrial products (£828m) – reflecting the county’s depth and range of expertise.

The Top 100 companies also have a wide range of turnover from £18.9 million up to £598.2m. The collective turnover for the top 100 increased by 15.8 per cent to £6.7bn in the period under review.

A similarly strong growth also came through in profit or EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation), up 12.4 per cent to £678.9m.

The number of people employed by the top 100 companies rose by 2.1 per cent to 36,476, with the average salary up 5.1 per cent to £33.9k. This below-inflation salary increase reflects the strain on businesses to balance their longer-term talent strategies with rising margin pressures.

It is a trend mirrored nationally, with Grant Thornton’s Business Outlook Tracker recently revealing that 52 per cent of mid-market companies across the UK have frozen salary increases, with a further 36 per cent planning to do so. Almost half (48 per cent) have also frozen workforce bonuses.

The Suffolk Limited report revealed fixed assets are up 10.3 per cent to £2.28bn while gearing remained stable at 0.36.

Tim Taylor, Practice Leader for Grant Thornton in East Anglia, said: “Suffolk has a well-earned reputation as a hotbed for enterprise. That is reflected in the Suffolk Limited report, which serves as a testament to the resilience and ingenuity of the 100 most successful private companies in the county.

“These firms act as beacons to the wider business community, offering inspiration and encouragement regarding what can be achieved, even in the most challenging of circumstances.

“The excellent results showcased in the report are all the more remarkable when one considers the significant challenges the UK economy has faced in recent years.

“Looking ahead, Suffolk businesses are putting measures in place that will help the transition to a zero-carbon economy through sustainable food production and clean energy generation.

“East Anglia is at the forefront of the Southern North Sea transition and is developing a strong presence in bioenergy, hydrogen, and energy storage industries. As the pressure to meet Net Zero targets grows, we expect to see more companies from this vital sector in future iterations of our report.”

Alexandra Nelson, Partner in the Ipswich Corporate Team at Birketts, added: “The Suffolk Limited Report provides us with a great opportunity to assess how the county has fared over the last year and it is really encouraging to see that Suffolk’s top 100 private companies have continued to show such resilience.

“Our county’s top 100 face an incredibly testing trading environment, with increases in base costs and interest rates putting increased pressure on margins.

“However, Suffolk is a county of opportunity, with significant investment being made in our transport infrastructure improving links from our ports to the wider economy and large-scale projects, such as the development of Sizewell C, bringing with it job creation and economic advantages for our local economy.

“The innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of our country’s top companies gives us confidence that they will be well prepared to weather the challenges and take advantage of opportunities as they arise.”

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