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Strong service sector helps keep business buoyant in Essex

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Turnover and profits at the top 100 privately-owned companies in Essex have continued to grow at a healthy rate helped by a strong service sector but the county’s property businesses have faced a tougher year and firms are borrowing more, according to the 2019 Essex Limited report from Grant Thornton and Birketts.

Based on an analysis of firms’ latest annual reports, it shows turnover at the top 100 has risen by 15 per cent to £10.5bn and profits by 12 per cent. The service sector in Essex saw the largest growth in turnover and operating profit and the automotive sector also stood out with a 9.7 per cent growth in turnover. Although property and construction remained the largest sector in the county by turnover and profit, it has seen a more challenging year with six companies exiting the top 100. The study also shows employment at the top 100 has risen by more than 10 per cent and average wages rose by 11.1 per cent to £30,036.

Trevor Ling, tax director at Grant Thornton’s Essex office in Chelmsford, said: “ …The diverse composition, and the ‘halo-effect’ from London, means Essex is slightly more protected than some areas when it comes to surviving Brexit. Against a challenging backdrop, Essex Limited has delivered a strong overall performance including increases in turnover, profit, average wage figures and number of employees – clearly Essex Limited has both focussed on retaining their existing talent as well as growth through careful recruitment.”

Adam Jones, partner in corporate law and finance at Birketts LLP’s Chelmsford office, added: “Six of the seven sectors have also shown increased gearing this year, with companies placing more reliance on external debt financing to assist in organic growth. That growth is to be celebrated, as it is a product of Essex businesses backing themselves and their employees, but possibly also shows an apprehension about making new external investment decisions whilst the final Brexit outcome is still outstanding.”

Photo: Construction company Hill Holdings, based in Waltham Abbey, was Essex’s top performing company for the first time having seen turnover increase by 20.7 per cent.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 26 November 2019 08:37 )