Suffolk: Focus falls on sustainability at Grant Thornton’s 2013 Suffolk Ltd event

Ian Thoroughgood, left, and James Brown, right, of Grant Thornton with guest speakers Laurence Olins

Ian Thoroughgood, left, and James Brown, right, of Grant Thornton with guest speakers Laurence Olins, second from left, and Doug Field, at the Suffolk Ltd event at Trinity Park. - Credit: Archant

The vital importance of sustainability to two major businesses in the food supply chain was highlighted today at an event focusing on how Suffolk’s leading companies have performed over the past year.

Laurence Olins, the Suffolk-based executive chairman of fresh produce supplier Poupart, and Doug Field, executive officer for finance and technology at the East of England Co-operative Society, were guest speakers at the 2013 Suffolk Ltd breakfast hosted by accountants and business advisers Grant Thornton at Trinity Park, Ipswich.

The annual Suffolk Ltd report compiled by Grant Thornton involves a composite set of accounts based on the most recent full-year results from the 100 largest companies based and managed within the county.

Mr Olins said that, while Poupart may have underplayed the importance of sustainability in the past, the concept was now “very much a part of our company’s DNA”.

Community, education, supply chain efficiency and the environment had been identified as key elements within the company’s approach to corporate social responsibility and a wide range of business benefits had been achieved as a result, including not only cost savings and a reduced environmental impact but also improvements in terms of employee involvement and reputation.

Mr Field explained how the East of England Co-op ? which ranks as the largest business among the 100 included in this year’s Suffolk Ltd report ? is committed to working with its members and the communities in which they live, including a major local sourcing initiative.

James Brown and Ian Thoroughgood gave a presentation on the findings of this year’s Suffolk Ltd study, which showed a 5.6% increase in turnover among the county’s leading firms, to a total of £4.006billion.

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Their combined operating profits were 10% higher compared with the previous year at £175million and pre-tax profits were up 9.4% at £163m.