County’s top firms defying the gloom

SUFFOLK’S biggest independent companies have continued to defy the economic gloom, an annual report published today reveals.

The combined sales of the county’s top 100 businesses have increased by 6% year-on-year to �5.18billion, according to analysis of their most recently filed accounts.

Their annual operating profits have also increased, by 4% to a total of �175million, despite what the report’s authors describe as some of the toughest market conditions in living memory.

The figures are revealed in the annual Suffolk Limited report, compiled by accountants and business advisers Grant Thornton from the accounts of the county’s 100 largest companies in terms of annual turnover.

Grant Thornton says the increase in turnover means that sales have returned to their level of two years ago, despite most of the accounts relating to the 2010 calendar year which saw only marginal growth in the overall economy.

Although operating profits are still down on two years ago, the firm adds that, overall, the figures show that Suffolk’s top firms “have managed to respond positively to probably the toughest market conditions in living memory”.

Total employment across the county’s top 100 businesses fell by 1,656 compared with the previous survey to 30,816 but, taking into account the nature of companies entering and leaving the top 100 list this year, the underlying level was largely static.

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James Brown, a partner at Grant Thornton, said: “Considering the very challenging economic and market conditions that the UK and much of the world has had to contend with, Suffolk Limited has fared surprisingly well over the reporting period, with a rebound in revenues back to 2009 levels and growth in operating profits approximately in line with turnover.”

n For full details of the 2011 Suffolk Limited report, see the first edition of the EADT’s new Business East Monthly, inside today.