Posted on Thursday 23 August 2012 by Ulster Business

UlsterBusiness MoyPark

Publisher of Ulster Business, James Greer; Moy Park’s Managing Director Nigel Dunlop, and Darren Lemon, General Manager of Eircom NI which sponsored the Top 100

The sales performance of Northern Ireland’s Top 100 companies has defied the recession over the past year, according to figures published in Ulster Business.

Our annual survey, now in its 24th year, provides a snapshot of the Northern Ireland economy from the latest available company accounts – most relating to the 2010/11 financial year - filed at Companies House.

The results, produced by Dun & Bradstreet for Ulster Business, reveal that the combined turnover of Northern Ireland’s Top 100 companies rose to £19.8bn in the 2012 list from £17.6bn for the same companies in 2011.

The 12% increase in sales result marked a bounce back to growth after a fall last year interrupted a decade of improved sales performance.

The return to growth is partly attributed to the reinstatement to the list of Quinn Manufacturing - the continuing businesses of the former Quinn Group – for which no comparable sales figure existed last year. Excluding Quinn Manufacturing, overall turnover still increased by 8% on a like-for-like basis.

A number of big name companies posted higher turnover, including FG Wilson (+18%), Henderson Group (+9%), Northern Ireland Water (+14%) and United Dairy Farmers (+8%). Poultry processor Moy Park topped the survey for the first time after registering an 18% rise in turnover to £921m.

Reflecting the current economic conditions, 18 of the 100 companies listed made a pre-tax loss. But overall profitability increased to £786m, meaning that the profit margin of the Top 100 remained constant at 4% from last year.

Symon Ross, editor of Ulster Business said:

“The figures on which the Top 100 list is based provide some cheer, but nobody is likely to get carried away given the tough economic realities still facing most sectors. Many of our biggest businesses have succeeded in increasing their sales but profits haven’t always moved in the same direction at the same pace.

“That said, we should not overlook the ongoing successes and innovation demonstrated by our large companies, particularly those who are thriving in export markets.”

Companies linked to the agri-food / food & drink sector accounted for 23 places on the listing, while manufacturing contributed 15 companies, the construction sector 16 firms and another 16 businesses were related to energy.

Jonathan Cushley of Dun & Bradstreet, which carried out the survey on behalf of Ulster Business, said:

“The 24th compilation of the Ulster Business Top 100 listing shows a return to positive sales growth after a dip in 2011 giving some cause for celebration in what remain difficult global trading conditions.

“It is encouraging that overall the Top 100 businesses have maintained profitability, but it should also be noted that 18 of the companies are loss making, which is a 50% increase in the 12 reported in the 2010 listing. The biggest opportunities in coming years will likely fall to export companies, particularly those operating in emerging markets.”

One business aiming to continue its export success is number one company Moy Park.

Its Managing Director, Nigel Dunlop, said: “To be named as number one company in Ulster Business’ Top 100 is a great accolade. Moy Park has a long history in Northern Ireland, with the company being established here in 1943.

“We continue to grow sales and market share in fresh poultry and convenience foods as well as expanding into new products and categories. As a company we remain focused on continuous improvement and on delivering high quality, great value food to customers and consumers.

“It is great to see agri-food businesses listed in the Top 100. The sector is leading the way for the local economy, currently accounting for around 20% of NI’s private sector employment and generating an output worth £3.5bn.”

James Greer, publisher of Ulster Business added: “The Top 100 is now in its 24th year and is still providing an excellent insight into the performance of Northern Ireland’s top companies. Once again, Dun & Bradstreet have done an excellent job in compiling the figures and we are also very grateful to the companies in the list for their co-operation.”

Click here to view the full Top 100 rankings

The Top 100 edition of Ulster Business is now sale.

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