OPINION: why small is beautiful

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Small firms play a vital role in the Sheffield City Region economy and nothing demonstrates that more clearly than our annual study of the Top 100 Small and Medium- Sized Enterprises – or SMEs.

The rankings, compiled with the help of leading independent accountants and business advisers, Barber Harrison & Platt show the sheer diversity of successful SMEs.

The region’s five most profitable SMEs range from a turbocharger parts business to a glass recycler – both based in Barnsley.

Property developers, cruise holiday specialists and a carpet manufacturer are also right up at the top.

There are also companies with deep roots in the region’s industrial past, including well- known names from advanced manufacturing and two textiles businesses founded around 220 years ago.

There are also plenty of well-known exporters among the Top SMEs – a fact which should give encouragement to others that have the potential but have yet to dip their toes in foreign markets.

The rankings ably demonstrate that SMEs are an engine for growth but can also make a solid contribution to employment and wealth even if they stay in the smaller category.

Even in tough times, SMEs are demonstrating their success.

The region’s Top 100 have managed to increase their profits by more than a fifth, with firms in Sheffield, Chesterfield and Barnsley leading the way.

Meanwhile sales have risen by around an eighth.

Manufacturers and metals companies continue to lead the way, along with companies from the services sector. Even the retail sector has recorded an improvement in profits, despite job cuts.

Encouragingly, the number of jobs created by the region’s SMEs has grown slightly.

The fact that SMEs have been able to increase profits, while maintaining overall employment levels can only be an encouragement for the future.

If the economy continues to pick up, it will open the way for further growth among SMEs and that will inevitably mean more jobs.