Looking back over Northamptonshire’s five years of growth

We’re living through a period of significant change for businesses. From Brexit, currency fluctuations, Trump’s tougher stance on international trade and GDPR, to domestic issues such as gender pay gap reporting and the sugar tax, there are many issues for organisations to contend with.

Whilst some of these open up new opportunities for businesses, others present challenges which need to be overcome. As a result, this year’s Northamptonshire Limited report, our annual analysis of how the top 100 privately owned businesses in the county are performing, should provide a fascinating and unique insight into the impact these various factors are having on recent growth trends, profitability, investment and employment.

In the current climate, it’s perhaps easy to be pessimistic. However, when you look back over our previous five Limited reports, they paint a clear picture of a business community which is resilient, optimistic, able to adapt to change and, more importantly, continues to thrive. Now, with half a decade’s worth of in depth research and analysis, we have a real insight into the key trends which have emerged as businesses in Northamptonshire navigate these challenging waters.

For the five consecutive years since 2013, the top 100 privately owned businesses in Northamptonshire have increased turnover, profitability (measured by EBITDA) and employment. This is a remarkable achievement and shows a county that is continuing to prosper, flourish and offer new opportunities for both businesses and career driven individuals.

Many businesses featured in our first Northamptonshire Limited report in 2013 remain a part of the top 100 today. Turnover of these businesses over the previous 5 years has grown by more than 30% and profitability amongst those businesses has performed even better, increasing over 67%.

Despite the uncertainty over Brexit, last year’s report continued this positive trajectory and we are optimistic for another good performance in 2018. This consistency reflects the increased recognition that Northamptonshire is an attractive place to do business.

Local M&A activity has also been prolific over this period and companies have been adept at adjusting their strategies to take advantage of emerging trends. However, there is no room for complacency with further potential bumps in the road ahead as more details emerge about our future relationship with EU and access to the single market and customs union.

Employment

People are at the heart of any successful business and the steady rise in employment levels has certainly played a key role in supporting the growth trends we have seen over the last five years. Average employment growth across the top 100 has been more than 20% since 2013. This underlines the vibrancy of the businesses we have here in the county which offer exciting opportunities in a variety of roles with fantastic career prospects.

Although average wages have remained broadly static, we have seen a slight rise every year apart from 2016. However, as we reach ‘full employment’ and competition in the market increases, we expect this to change. With the continued skills shortage, firms are battling for the best talent which is creating an employee’s market. It should be noted that other factors come into play aside from remuneration when it comes to employee recruitment and retention, such as in work benefits, training and culture which many firms use to attract the best people.

Businesses should also still remember to take advantage of the new Apprenticeship Levy to upskill the next generation at a relatively low cost and enjoy the benefits of new, fresh talent.

It’s clear that Northamptonshire is a fantastic place to do business - full of fast growing, thriving firms, exciting new opportunities and a positive future ahead. This year’s Northamptonshire Limited report, unveiled on Thursday 17 May at Northampton Saints Rugby Club, should be particularly insightful. Now the immediate uncertainty has faded and businesses have had time to consider the future scenarios, we will start to have a clearer idea of the impact of Brexit on local companies.

Over the years we have been very fortunate to be joined by local business leaders from some of the nation’s much loved brands, from Weetabix to Weatherbys. This year, we are delighted to have a panel including Kieron Salter from KW Special Projects, Chris McDermott from Cambridge Weight Plan and Hilary Chipping, Acting CEO of SEMLEP.

For further information, please contact lucy.c.evans@uk.gt.com