Yorkshire's top businesses enjoy double-digit growth

17 September 2019 Consultancy.uk 4 min. read
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The leading market players of Yorkshire enjoyed turnover growth of more than 10% in the last year, according to new research on the local economy. However, warning signs are also present in the market, with larger companies bringing in less turnover from overseas and downsizing their headcount ahead of Brexit’s culmination.

The UK economy is at a crossroads with new technology, new international relationships, new markets and new politics creating unprecedented uncertainty for many businesses. The historic county of Yorkshire is no different in that regard, with many businesses residing there having to contend with a period of rapid change. Despite this, however, the local economy – accounting for about 8% of UK GDP – has seen double-digit growth over the last year.

According to a new study from professional services firm BDO, the largest companies in Yorkshire enjoyed a collective turnover of £117.8 billion. This represents a 10.6% increase on last year’s haul – and while the 50 largest firms enjoyed rapid growth, the average was actually buoyed by the stronger performance of mid-tier firms. BDO found the ‘mid 200’ saw their turnover improve by 11.7%.

Turnover growth of top 250 Yorkshire businesses

One of the reasons for the heightened level of growth among the mid 200 seems to be their continued push for business overseas. BDO found that those firms brought in overseas turnover of £4.3 billion, a 22.9% increase on last year’s levels.

Commenting on the findings, Mark Langford, an Audit Partner at BDO, said, “The impressive all-round performance flies in the face of on-going political uncertainty and shows Yorkshire business leaders have been pushing ahead with growth plans, whatever happens with Brexit. Tiring of the continuing political uncertainty, Yorkshire business leaders couldn’t wait forever. The Yorkshire Report data suggests that businesses have decided to just get on with it and go for growth.”

Overseas turnover of top 250 Yorkshire businesses

However, BDO’s figures do suggest that there has been a trend of belt-tightening among the largest of the firms examined. The top 50 firms saw overseas revenues fall by 12.7% – or around £800 million – suggesting a notable scaling back of operations and investment in sales outside the UK. At the same time, these firms also looked to downsize the number of employees at their firms.

While the mid 200 saw 10% employee growth to around 174,700 staff, the top 50 decreased its headcount by 1% to just over 421,000. This could suggest that while the UK’s employment rate is at its highest level for decades, the trend may not be sustainable for much longer. As the prospect of a No Deal Brexit looms, even lower-cost investment in human resources over new technology seems to be losing its lustre for big firms. Keen to preserve their profitability in a turbulent era, they therefore could be set to downsize more aggressively in the coming years.

Number of employees at top 250 Yorkshire businesses

Concluding his thoughts on the report, Langford added, “The UK economy is at a crossroads with new technology, new international relationships, new markets and new politics creating unprecedented uncertainty for many Yorkshire businesses. Since 2016, as part of its New Economy campaign, BDO has been calling on the government to make effective investments to create the right environment for business and local communities to flourish in the regions outside of London and the South, in order to create regional powerhouses across the nation. The Government has been distracted in this regard for far too long.”