Essex: County’s top firms ‘well set for recovery’

ESSEX’S leading independent businesses have increased their sales and profits despite the challenging economic climate, a new report reveals today.

A composite set of accounts based on the most recent annual returns from the 100 biggest companies based in Essex shows that their combined turnover has grown by 12%, from �6.647billion to �7.428bn, in the past year.

The figures are contained in Essex Ltd, compiled by accountants and business advisers Grant Thornton, working with law firm Birkett Long, which is intended to appear annually. It is modelled on Grant Thornton’s Suffolk Ltd report, which marked its 10th anniversary last month.

Essex Ltd shows that the county’s leading businesses achieved combined operating profits of �263million last year, up 93% from �136m in the previous 12 months, while pre-tax profits totalled �121m, against a �60m loss the previous year.

Gearing fell from 195% to 179%, but still means that the Essex firms have �1.79 of debt for every �1 of equity, against just 55p for firms in this year’s Suffolk Ltd report.

Ian Thoroughgood of Grant Thornton said: “Clearly the banks can see a strong future within Essex and as such are confident of returns on their lending once the downturn has passed.

“All of this points towards the county being ready to make the most of the recovery when it starts to appear.”