Northampton named “best place in country” for building business as top companies reveal growth of six per cent

Northamptonshire Limited 2015 breakfast event. L-R Grant Thornton director John Corbishley, Weetabix Food Company CEO Giles Turrell CEO,  Grant Thornton director Mike Hughes, Grant Thornton practice leader Kevin Gale
Northamptonshire Limited 2015 breakfast event. L-R Grant Thornton director John Corbishley, Weetabix Food Company CEO Giles Turrell CEO, Grant Thornton director Mike Hughes, Grant Thornton practice leader Kevin Gale

Employment levels among Northamptonshire’s 100 biggest companies have risen by almost six per cent as Northampton is again named one of the best places in the UK for start-up businesses.

The figures follow a report released today as representatives from the county’s top 100 private businesses met at an annual breakfast event hosted by Grant Thornoton business advisors at the Northampton Saints Rugby Club.

Findings from the last 12 months showed that turnover among those companies rose by seven per cent, to £5.55 billion, allowing for a 5.7 per cent increase in employment, from 29,240 staff members to 30,913.

Employee salaries also increased by an average of almost £300.

Of these businesses, those in the food, drink and leisure sector showed both the highest turnover this year (£1,583,223 from £1,568,522) and highest employment level, with a total of 8,151 staff members across the county.

However, in terms of growth, the technology sector showed the highest increase in both turnover and employment over the last 12 months. Both counts rose by more than a third: from £85,222 to £111,446 and from 539 staff members to 734.

Mike Hughes, Grant Thornton director, said: “The significant growth delivered in turnover and employment shows a strong, local economy which is outperforming the UK economy as a whole.”

This was further demonstrated by a report released in January this year by the Centre for Cities, ranking Northampton as one of the best places in the country for start-up businesses. At the same time, Government figures also revealed a 35 per cent increase in apprenticeship vacancies across the county.

Giles Turrell, CEO of Northamptonshire-based Weetabix, the second largest cereal brand in the UK, attended this morning’s event as a guest speaker. He said: “Northamptonshire Limited is a great opportunity to focus on the county’s incredibly diverse business scene and this year’s study confirms what we already know - that Northamptonshire is a great place to do business.”

This was supported by the report’s statistics on smaller and medium enterprises (SMEs), which grew by more than twice as much as larger companies over the last year. Collectively, their turnover rose by just over a tenth (from £1,373,309 last year to £1,525,345), compared to the 5.6 per cent rise among large companies (from £3,807,954 to £4,020,165).

Most of the businesses considered are based in Northampton, a total of 42, with kettering second, 21, and Wellingborough third, 17. In January this year the Centre for Cities’ Outlook report ranked Northampton as one of the best places in the country.

John Corbishley, also a Grant Thornton director, added: “The Northamptonshire Limited 2015 results paint a positive picture of a robust county which is continuing to perform extremely well across all sectors.

“Profitability amongst Northamptonshire’s 100 largest businesses has increased significantly which has been used to support investment and employment growth. This demonstrates that Northamptonshire businesses are enjoying a healthy, strong trading environment and are looking confidently to the future.”

John Markham OBE, chairman of Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership (NEP) revealed his ambition to continue growth and reach a £20 billion economy over the next five years.

Speaking ahead of the event, he said: “Northamptonshire’s economy has significant potential to deliver further growth, with our ambition being to create a £20billion economy by 2020.

“I would like to personally thank our Top 100 for the excellent contribution that they have made towards achieving this.”