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Surge in profits at top Cambs businesses

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Combined underlying profits (ebitda) at Cambridgeshire’s top 100 companies rose by 18.3 per cent to £749m in the latest financial year, according to a study Cambridgeshire Ltd by Grant Thornton and Mills & Reeve. Total turnover was up 15.8% to £10.25bn, with most businesses reporting sales increases. The majority of sectors reported profit increases, the fastest increase being consumer & wholesale markets, up 97.1 per cent to £183m. Technology had the highest level of profits £252m, up 27.5%.

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.”

Automotive is the largest sector with turnover of £2,756m.  Automotive also saw the highest turnover increase of 32.4% with the sector’s strong performance primarily due to an acquisition by Marshall of Cambridge. However, the fastest growing company was Macxchange which achieved an 172% increase in sales.

Employment levels for the 100 companies rose by 6.3% (3,289 jobs) to 55,170 people. The Business Support Services sector remained the largest employer (30% of total) at 16,664 people, up 9%. Job increases were seen across the majority of sectors, the notable exception being Manufacturing (down 15.3%).

The average salary of those employed by the top 100 companies increased by 4.4% 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%), with Food & Beverage the lowest at £19,800 per annum.

The Cambridgeshire Ltd study was based on the latest company accounts available and so relates to a period before the triggering of Article 50 and the snap UK general election result.

Paul Brown, director at Grant Thornton’s Cambridge office, said: “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% to £1,280m and employment rising considerably. This underwrites the confidence levels our county’s businesses are reporting despite the uncertainty of Brexit negotiations.”

The Cambridgeshire Ltd report also analysed a breakdown of the financial data by sector. In terms of turnover, top performer Automotive (£2,756m) was followed by Food & Beverage (£2,221m) and Consumer & Wholesale Markets (£1,736m). All eight sectors achieved turnover increases. The majority of sectors reported profit increases, the fastest increase being Consumer & Wholesale Markets, up 97.1% to £183m. Technology has the highest level of profits £252m, up 27.5%.

Meanwhile, the 2017 report’s Growth Index showed the 25 companies with the fastest profit growth.  These companies reported a 25% increase in turnover to £328m and a 250% rise in profits, up to £215m.

Ian Mather, partner and head of Mills & Reeve’s Cambridge office, concludes: “These businesses have achieved outstanding rates of growth and there is a real spread in terms of size, sector and location, once again reflecting the diversity and vibrancy of Cambridgeshire.”

During the briefing event held at The Cambridge Belfry, Cambourne, guest panellists James Palmer, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough; Neil Hammill, vice president of sales, Cambridge Commodities; Anne Bailey, founder, Form the Future and Faye Holland, founder Cofinitive, shared their business insights and took questions from delegates.

For a full copy of the Cambridgeshire Ltd 2016 report,  contact Grant Thornton at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 22 November 2017 15:15 )