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Grant Thornton Essex Limited report reveals ‘positive’ year for county’s 100 biggest companies

PUBLISHED: 08:00 21 November 2017 | UPDATED: 17:55 21 November 2017

Trevor Ling, left, and Graham Mummery of Grant Thornton.

Trevor Ling, left, and Graham Mummery of Grant Thornton.

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Revenue and profits at the leading businesses based in Essex have continue to grow over the past year, according to a new study.

From left, Trevor Ling, Grant Thornton; Glyn Hopkins, chairman of Glyn Hopkin Limited which topped Essex Limited 2017, and Graham Mummery, Grant Thornton. From left, Trevor Ling, Grant Thornton; Glyn Hopkins, chairman of Glyn Hopkin Limited which topped Essex Limited 2017, and Graham Mummery, Grant Thornton.

The latest edition of the annual Essex Limited report, produced by business advice and accountancy firm Grant Thornton, shows that the combined turnover of the 100 largest companies located in, and managed from within, the county has grown by 1.4% year-on-year to £8.303bn.

Operating profits have risen by 5.1% compared with last year’s report to £434m while pre-tax profits have increased by 3.4% to £373m.

However, the rate of growth was down compared with the previous 12 months and employment levels for the 100 Essex Limited companies fell by 2.3% to 48,903, a net loss of 1,148 jobs.

In contrast, the average salary of those employed by Essex Limited companies rose by 4.2% to £26,775, slightly above the national average of £26,500 and reversing a 3% decline seen last year.

From left,  Graham Mummery, Grant Thornton; James Douglas, Lloyds Bank; Simon Reed, Simarco International Limited; Darren Bear, Grant Thornton; Christopher Gallop, Cloudfm Group Limited; Brigette Bard, BioSure (UK) Ltd and Trevor Ling, Grant Thornton, at the Essex Limited event. From left, Graham Mummery, Grant Thornton; James Douglas, Lloyds Bank; Simon Reed, Simarco International Limited; Darren Bear, Grant Thornton; Christopher Gallop, Cloudfm Group Limited; Brigette Bard, BioSure (UK) Ltd and Trevor Ling, Grant Thornton, at the Essex Limited event.

Debt levels increased by 13.5% while gearing, a measure of the extent to which a company is funded by debt, rose by 4% to 69% following several years of decline (although from a comparatively high base).

Property & Construction remained the largest sector by both turnover (£2.340bn) and operating profit (up 21.3% to £231m) while healthcare remained the largest employer with a 5.8% increase in numbers to 15,839, representing 32.4% of the Essex Limited total.

Five of the seven sectors grew turnover with Manufacturing reporting the largest increase, of 28% to £456m. Property & Construction and Transport were the only sectors to see turnover decline, falling 9.1% and 17.9% respectively.

However, Property & Construction was one of just two of the seven sectors to grow operating profit, together with Services which reported a 19% rise to £61m. The largest fall in operating profit was seen by Healthcare, down 34.7% to £21.3m.

Trevor Ling, from Grant Thornton’s Chelmsford office, said: “Overall, the 100 largest businesses in Essex have had another positive year, with a strong improvement in operating profit which is all the more impressive given that turnover increased only marginally.

“This demonstrates greater control of operating costs and it’s encouraging to see employees directly benefitting from the rise in profitability with an increase in average wage following last year’s decline.”

The Essex Limited 2017 study was based on the most recent company accounts available and so relates to a period before the triggering of Article 50 and the snap UK General Election result.

The results were unveiled today at an event at Stock Brook Country Club near Billericay, where an expert panel including Simon Reed, chief executive of Simarco International, James Douglas, director at Lloyds Bank CB Markets Financial Risk & Management, Christopher Gallop, group managing director of Cloudfm Group, and Brigette Bard, chief executive and founder of BioSure (UK) shared their business insights and took questions from delegates.

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