Rising profits and sales leave Peterborough companies ready for challenges ahead

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Bosses of successful companies across Peterborough have risen to the challenge to keep their business growing.

Directors were praised at a gathering of business leaders in Peterborough held to review the performance of the county's top 100 companies.

Businesses in Peterborough are well placed for the challenges ahead.

Businesses in Peterborough are well placed for the challenges ahead.

Paul Brown, director of accounting and consulting firm Grant Thornton, told about 100 guests meeting at the Orton Hall Hotel, in Orton Longueville: "After the last Cambridgeshire Ltd report, the challenge for business leaders was to sustain the growth.

"And our new report, Cambridgeshire Ltd 2018, shows we have enjoyed another year of growth.

"The local economy is in a healthy position to face the uncertainties ahead.

"I am confident for the future success of the county economy."

Paul Brown, director at Grant Thornton.

Paul Brown, director at Grant Thornton.

According to the Cambridgeshire Ltd 2018 report, which profiles the 100 largest companies owned and managed in the county, combined annual turnover is up 10 per cent to £10.7 billion.

Combined profits (EBITDA) are up 16.7 per cent to £780 million with Peterborough’s companies achieving the highest profit growth of the six areas that make up the county.

There was a six per cent increase in employment and a three per cent increase in annual wages.

But the report also reveals that businesses seem to have been slow to substantially improve diversity at the top.

Mr Brown said: “It has been another strong year for Cambridgeshire companies.

“We are seeing sustained growth which has put business in a strong position looking forward - especially to withstand changes caused by the UK leaving the European Union.

“However, the issue of diversity is an important one for business.

“Successful businesses will reflect the make-up of the customers.

“They need to be able to connect and have an empathy with the people they serve and their workforce.”

Figures in Cambridgeshire Ltd 2018, show that only 17 per cent of company directors in the county are female.

Last year the figure was 19 per cent.

Nationally, 22 per cent of directors are women.

Mr Brown said: “On diversity Cambridgeshire does less well.

“The level of female directors is very low.

“Also just nine out of 493 directors are from other European countries, which is less than you would expect.”

Nationally, the make of boards of directors shows 93 per cent of directors are British.”

Across the county, most directors are aged 50 plus.

Mr Brown said: “This can be seen as a strength as it is a sign of experience.

“But we also found that two directors were in their nineties .”

While, profits countywide have risen over the year, the survey finds that Peterborough is the most profitable area on a pound for pound basis.

And last year, Peterborough delivered the best profit growth at 31 per cent.

The city also boasts the most companies (27) of all the regions in the county’s top 100 companies, and it has the highest number of new businesses over recent years.

Exporters are comparatively low at 21 per cent.

Mr Brown said: “The strength of those businesses is they make products that are wanted around the world.

“While selling to the home market could protect companies from difficulties in exporting, they could encounter problems from the impact on costs of changing exchange rates, and a reduction in the availability of people, and from simple uncertainty.

Mr Brown said: “It all leaves companies in a strong position to weather whatever type of storms might be stirred as the UK leaves the European Union.

He added: “Overall, it is another impressive performance by our county’s businesses.

“Cambridgeshire is an exciting place to be, and whilst there are many pressures in the logistics and infrastructure of our county, we are seeing businesses thrive.”