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Cambridgeshire's top 100 companies revealed - and profits, turnover and wages are on the rise


By Paul Brackley


Darren Bear, of Grant Thornton, back, with Grant Thornton director and report author Paul Brown, right, and Ian Mather, of Mills & Reeve
Darren Bear, of Grant Thornton, back, with Grant Thornton director and report author Paul Brown, right, and Ian Mather, of Mills & Reeve

Cambridgeshire Ltd study by Grant Thornton shows county's growth is outstripping national performance

The Cambridgeshire Ltd report is launched at the Belfry in Cambourne
The Cambridgeshire Ltd report is launched at the Belfry in Cambourne

Cambridgeshire’s biggest companies are growing at a pace that far outstrips the national average, according to the leading annual barometer of its top 100 businesses.

Grant Thornton’s much-anticipated Cambridgeshire Ltd report was unveiled on Monday at The Belfry in Cambourne, where more than 100 business and community leaders gathered to hear analysis of how the county is performing.

The combined profits of those in the report soared by 18.3 per cent last year to £749million, the report showed, as previous investment began to reap rewards.

Turnover for the top 100 also rose significantly, by 15.8 per cent to £10.25billion, with 80 per cent of businesses reporting sales increases.

An overview of the performance of the top 100 companies in the Cambridgeshire Ltd report from Grant Thornton
An overview of the performance of the top 100 companies in the Cambridgeshire Ltd report from Grant Thornton

Employment increased by 6 per cent at the top 100, and average wages also grew, by 4.4%, to £28,000.

Cambridge companies in the list paid by far the most, however, with an average of £47,400, while Ely had the lowest average wage, at £24,800.

Darren Bear, practice leader of Grant Thornton – the financial and business advisers with a base at Cambridge Science Park – said: “We have seen business leaders display confidence and achieve great success. Last year, we saw evidence of strategic decision-making as companies restructured for long-term, sustainable growth.

“Wherever I go in the county, it is clear to see the investment in the wider infrastructure that is now taking pace.”

An overview of the performance of the top 100 companies in the Cambridgeshire Ltd report from GrantThornton
An overview of the performance of the top 100 companies in the Cambridgeshire Ltd report from GrantThornton

The study, delivered this year in partnership with leading law firm Mills & Reeve, uses public accounts from September 2017 to assess the 100 biggest companies, based on turnover. To qualify, the companies must have their principal place of business and management in Cambridgeshire.

Companies that are owned by overseas firms are excluded, meaning chip giant Arm, which was acquired by Japanese firm SoftBank, digital radio company Sepura, bought by China-based Hytera, and games developer Jagex, now owned by Chinese investment firm Zhongji Holding, are not eligible for inclusion.

AstraZeneca, which is building its global HQ and R&D centre on Cambridge Biomedical Campus, would top the list but is excluded because it is a global organisation with $23bn turnover and $17bn in net assets, so would have a disproportionate impact on the analysis.

The biggest sector in the report was automotive, with a turnover of £2,765million. The sector delivered the highest turnover increase of 32.4 per cent. Much of this strong performance arose from a major acquisition by Marshall, which topped the Cambridgeshire Ltd chart with its £2.3billion turnover.

The audience gathers for the unveiling of the Cambridgeshire Ltd report
The audience gathers for the unveiling of the Cambridgeshire Ltd report

The technology, consumer and wholesale markets and food and beverage sectors delivered the largest profits – but 60 companies in the list reported a profits rise on the previous year. Some 92 were profitable, while 80 increased turnover.

The report featured 22 new entrants, including Radical Sportscars, BWP (Cambridge), 1spatial PLC, Abzena PLC and Escape Fitness Ltd.

Another new entrant, the Raspberry Pi Foundation, the Cambridge organisation behind the cheap as chips computers, made it to the foot of the list with turnover of £18million.

Geographically, the top 100 was reasonably well spread, with 39 in Cambridge – including 17 in its surrounding villages – 31 in Peterborough, 13 in Huntingdon, 10 in Wisbech and seven in Ely. But Cambridge city generates by far the highest turnover, at £3.8billion, with Huntingdon next, on £2.1billion.

Guests at the Cambridgeshire Ltd event, held at The Belfry in Cambourne
Guests at the Cambridgeshire Ltd event, held at The Belfry in Cambourne

Report author Paul Brown, director at Grant Thornton’s Cambridge office, said: “The 2017 study shows the investments made last year in people, capacity and operations are already generating returns and opportunities for businesses and people. Growth for Cambridgeshire’s 100 largest businesses is far outstripping the UK national growth rate of 0.4 per cent and this once again demonstrates what a vibrant economy Cambridgeshire offers.

“This vibrancy is reflected by the substantial changes to the top 100 companies, with 22 new entrants across a range of sectors. This is a natural and healthy regeneration of Cambridgeshire Ltd – mature businesses change ownership and a new generation of high growth companies push their way through.

“Investment amongst the 100 largest firms is also continuing with fixed assets up 19 per cent to £1,280m and employment rising considerably. This underwrites the confidence levels our county’s businesses are reporting despite the uncertainty of Brexit negotiations.”

A growth index was also published, featuring the 25 companies reporting the highest profit growth. It was headed up by tech firm Telensa Holdings, which delivered an astonishing 13,638 per cent rise in earnings (measured by EBITDA). Cambridge Commodities, in Ely, was next with a 2,806 per cent rise.

A slide from the Cambridgeshire Ltd event on property and construction
A slide from the Cambridgeshire Ltd event on property and construction

Together these 25 companies reported a 25 per cent increase in turnover to £328million and an impressive 250 per cent rise in profits, up to £215m.

Ian Mather, partner and head of Mills & Reeve’s Cambridge office, said: “These businesses have achieved outstanding rates of growth and there is a real spread in terms of size, sector and location, once again reflecting the diversity and vibrancy of Cambridgeshire.”

Among those in the ‘Ones to Watch’ list were law firm Hewitsons, property and construction firm Z-Tech Control Systems and technology firm DF Broadcast Holdings.

James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Neil Hammill, vice president of sales at Cambridge Commodities, Anne Bailey, founder of Form the Future, and Faye Holland, founder of Cofinitive, took to the stage on Monday to offer their analysis and answer questions from the audience.

The panel, from left, Neil Hammill, vice president of sales at Cambridge Commodities, Faye Holland, founder of Cofinitive, James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and Anne Bailey, founder of Form the Future, at the unveiling of the Cambridgeshire Ltd 2017 report
The panel, from left, Neil Hammill, vice president of sales at Cambridge Commodities, Faye Holland, founder of Cofinitive, James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and Anne Bailey, founder of Form the Future, at the unveiling of the Cambridgeshire Ltd 2017 report

Look out for more analysis in the Cambridge Independent on Wednesday November 22.

Cambridgeshire’s Top 100 Companies

Robert Marshall of the Marshall Group, which topped the table. Picture: Keith Heppell
Robert Marshall of the Marshall Group, which topped the table. Picture: Keith Heppell

Astrazeneca PLC (excluded)*

1 Marshall of Cambridge (Holdings) Limited

2 Hilton Food Group PLC

3 BHL (UK) Holdings

Manufacturing has reported strong results, the Cambridgeshire Ltd report found
Manufacturing has reported strong results, the Cambridgeshire Ltd report found

4 G’s Group Holdings Limited

5 Vindis Group Limited

6 Napp Pharmaceutical Holdings Limited

7 PRO CAM Europe Limited

A slide from the Cambridgehire Ltd report event showing the performance of the technology sector
A slide from the Cambridgehire Ltd report event showing the performance of the technology sector

8 George Thurlow And Sons (Holdings) Limited

9 Hutchinson Group Limited

10 Aveva Group PLC

11 Russell Burgess Limited

A slide from the Cambridgeshire Ltd presentation showing how Cambridgeshire compares to its neighbours
A slide from the Cambridgeshire Ltd presentation showing how Cambridgeshire compares to its neighbours

12 Produce Investments PLC

13 Abcam PLC

14 Ridgeon Group Limited

15 Ideal Shopping Limited

Abcams team with developers at the topping out of its new HQ on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. Picture: Keith Heppell
Abcams team with developers at the topping out of its new HQ on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. Picture: Keith Heppell

16 Mundipharma Research Limited

17 Camelot Topco Limited

18 Macxchange Limited

19 Lawrence David Limited

Xaar came 20th in the top 100. From left, Jim Brault, Lisa Cowdrey and Indie Gill at Xaar on Cambridge Science Park. Picture: Keith Heppell
Xaar came 20th in the top 100. From left, Jim Brault, Lisa Cowdrey and Indie Gill at Xaar on Cambridge Science Park. Picture: Keith Heppell

20 Xaar PLC

21 Mick George Limited

22 Vital Recruitment Limited

23 Amino Technologies PLC

Premier Holidays came 20th. From left, Matt Bennett, Ella Lloyd and Emily Hale at Premier Travel in Cambourne. Picture: Keith Heppell
Premier Holidays came 20th. From left, Matt Bennett, Ella Lloyd and Emily Hale at Premier Travel in Cambourne. Picture: Keith Heppell

24 Quixant PLC

25 Welding Institute (The)

26 Hexagon Investment Holdings Limited

27 AK Retail Holdings Limited

Mick George was 21st in the list
Mick George was 21st in the list

28 Brookgate Limited

29 JB Shropshire & Sons Limited

30 Gardeden Topco Limited

31 F P Smith(Holdings)Limited

Automotive was the top sector in the Cambridgeshire Ltd report
Automotive was the top sector in the Cambridgeshire Ltd report

32 John Henry And Sons (Developments) Limited

33 Roe Bros & Co Limited

34 Anglia Components Limited

35 Princebuild Holdings Limited

The Cambridgeshire Ltd event concluded on a very positive note
The Cambridgeshire Ltd event concluded on a very positive note

36 BWP (Cambridge) Limited

37 Baker Perkins Holdings Limited

38 J E & V M Dalton Limited

39 Friar’s Pride Limited

Darrin Disley, CEO at Horizon Discovery, is one of the investors in Elpis
Darrin Disley, CEO at Horizon Discovery, is one of the investors in Elpis

40 Bidwells LLP

41 Chivgate Limited

42 Premier Holidays Limited

43 G & J Peck Limited

Eben Upton, the founder of Raspberry Pi. The Raspberry Pi Foundation came 100th. Picture: Keith Heppell
Eben Upton, the founder of Raspberry Pi. The Raspberry Pi Foundation came 100th. Picture: Keith Heppell

44 Comtec Group (International) Limited

45 Murkett Brothers (Holdings) Limited

46 Cashflows Europe Limited

47 Science Group PLC

48 Alan Bartlett & Sons (Chatteris) Limited

49 Adcock Refrigeration And Air Conditioning Limited

50 Cambridge Commodities Limited

51 TOY Brokers Holdings Limited

52 Elektron Technology PLC

53 Secure Home Purchase (2015) Limited

54 Redgate Enterprises Limited

55 Kershaw Group Limited

56 Creightons PLC

57 Brady PLC

58 Frederic Smart & Son Limited

59 E - Leather Limited

60 One Call Recruitment Limited

61 M J S Construction (March) Limited

62 Munro Building Services Holdings Limited

63 Secure Group Limited

64 RGE Engineering Limited

65 Business Control Solutions Group Limited

66 Clarksteel Holdings Limited

67 Ubisense Group PLC

68 Fenmarc Holdings Limited

69 Hales Group Limited

70 Horizon Discovery Group PLC

71 Cambridge Broadband Networks Limited

72 Anglia Home Furnishings Holdings Limited

73 Car World (Cambs) Limited

74 Quartix Holdings PLC

75 Knowles (Transport) Limited

76 Telensa Holdings Limited

77 1spatial PLC

78 Chiltern Cold Storage Group Holdings Limited

79 Frontier Developments PLC

80 Avingtrans PLC

81 Askew & Barrett (Pulses) Limited

82 The Lettuce Company Limited

83 International Direct Packaging Limited

84 Scotsdale Nursery And Garden Centre Limited

85 Hid Estates Limited

86 P C Howard Limited

87 G S Shropshire Holdings Limited

88 Wilcox Holdings Limited

89 Escape Fitness Limited

90 Alpha CRC Limited

91 Abzena PLC

92 Four Seasons Harvest Limited

93 Miers Construction Products Limited

94 Rapidrop Global Limited

95 Radical Sportscars Limited

96 Firstan Holdings Limited

97 Masteroast Holdings Limited

98 I Go 4 Limited

99 Ellgia Holdings Limited

100 Raspberry PI Foundation

*AstraZeneca is excluded because it is a global organistion with $23bn turnover and $17bn in net assets, so would have a disproportionate impact on the analysis.



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