Manufacturing - our region’s speciality - has suffered a disappointing decline this year, according to our annual survey of the Top 100 most profitable small and medium sized businesses.
Profits are down, turnover is down and headcount has fallen, reflecting tough times in the sector, the region’s second biggest employment sector.
Overall, manufacturing makes up 20 per cent of Sheffield City Region’s economy, but the figures show the number of manufacturing employees in the Top100 was down 17.6 per cent.
The fall reflects badly on government attempts to rebalance the economy and revitalise the North. And with manufacturing - especially steel making - hit by high energy costs, high business rates and a strong pound harming exports - few would bet on the picture improving rapidly.
The figures are revealed in the annual Star/Barber Harrison & Platt Top100 Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in Sheffield City Region.
SMEs are the lifeblood of the economy, comprising 80 per cent of the 44,700 firms registered in the region, which is centred on Sheffield but stretches from Thorne in Doncaster to the Derbyshire Dales.
Analysis shows many individual good news stories, including Barnsley turbocharger parts specialist Melett.
The firm is back to number one after dipping to second last year. If it’s success continues it will ‘graduate’ from - outgrow - the SME table which only includes firms with fewer than 250 employees, less than £25.9m turnover and less than £12.9m gross assets.
Engineering firms Linbrooke Services and X-cel Superturn and teachers’ agency Synarbor have all climbed off the top of the table after becoming ‘Large’ firms in the last year.
Barnsley bakers, Haywood and Padgett, rose very nicely - from 49th to 13th on the main table - after profits leapt 60 per cent. But it is the bottom of the list which often shows the rising stars. A prime example is electronic cigarette importer Mirage, based in Sheffield, which is new this year, at 95th.
Set up by entrepreneurial Craig Newbold in 2008, it has grown to more than 35 shops thanks to the boom in battery-powered vaping, which promises to deliver nicotine and water vapour but no nasty chemicals. The latest filed accounts show it made nearly £1m pre-tax profit on just £3.2m turnover.