Welcome to The Star/ Barber Harrison & Platt 2012 Top 100 Companies Survey.
The results of this year’s survey bring some good news: Following a year where aggregate turnover had fallen 13%, as reported by us last year, this year’s figure has bounced back by no less than 14% to £14.3 billion for the Top 100.
Employee numbers had also fallen by 13% last year - this year, they have remained, in aggregate, static.
The good news continues when we tally the Top 100 pre-tax profits/losses. Last year’s slight improvement to an aggregate loss of £273 million has improved more significantly to £105 million this year.
So, at headline level, a marked improvement in the financial performance of the region’s largest companies. Further analysis of the region’s profitability, by key geographical centre, reveals an interesting pattern in fortunes:
Sheffield-based companies show a dramatic swing from aggregate loss to profit of £128m improvements, although less marked, also show for businesses based in Barnsley, Chesterfield and Rotherham
Aggregate losses remain almost the same, however, at Doncaster-based businesses.
Overall then, the good news trumps the bad news across the South Yorkshire region and the upbeat vibes being championed in some quarters seem borne out by the results of this survey.
Detailed perusal of the survey results does of course identify the key ‘movers and shakers’, an exercise we have carried out to help understand some of the reasons for companies either moving up or down the table in 2012. Let’s look at the key movers who are heading up the chart.
On investigation, principal reasons cited for their improved financial performance include:
Selling off less profitable divisions/ subsidiaries (generating cash)
Diversification of product/service offering
Overhauling of working practices/ efficiency improvements
Expansion of customer base
In addition significantly higher metal prices have, for some companies, had a significant positive effect.
In a nutshell, companies who did not just stand still but took positive business actions have, in many cases, borne the fruit of their efforts.
How about the companies who have moved down the table? Companies in certain sectors are clearly finding business life very challenging.
A common theme includes those companies reliant on a public sector customer-base where national spending cuts are starting to bite hard within the region. Other difficult sectors include housing, DIY and motor retail.
It is also clear however that internal restructuring is still very much a key strategic development.
In conclusion, the theme coming through this year’s survey is certainly upbeat and whilst global economic uncertainties and challenges remain, many of South Yorkshire’s largest businesses appear more robustly placed to help drive forward the region’s economic success.