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Belfast Telegraph Top 100 Companies 2016: Danske Bank tops list as most profitable business in Northern Ireland

By Business Editor Margaret Canning

Published 09/05/2016

Belfast Telegraph's Top 100 Companies in association with Arthur Cox is out tomorrow
Belfast Telegraph's Top 100 Companies in association with Arthur Cox is out tomorrow

Danske Bank is confirmed as Northern Ireland’s most profitable business for the second year in a row in the Belfast Telegraph’s Top 100 Companies in association with Arthur Cox.

The Danish-owned bank, which is led by Kevin Kingston, had pre-tax profits of £139.7m – more than double those of the company in the number two position and a 40% jump on a year earlier.

Danske said it was “delighted” at claiming the top position once more and said its success was due to tight control of costs and the improving economy, particularly renewed health in the housing/mortgage market.

The improved property market also meant that it was no longer have to set aside money to cover bad debts — known as impairments.

Chief executive Kevin Kingston said: “We are delighted to retain the top spot in the Belfast Telegraph’s listing of the Top 100 companies in Northern Ireland for the second year running.

“The bank’s continued progress reflects a combination of improved revenue performance, ongoing cost control and impairment recoveries.”

He said the bank had also managed to increased its share of big-business customers.

 “For many years we have seen large numbers of business and corporate customers moving over to Danske Bank from other institutions.

“However, in the past year, it has been particularly pleasing to see many existing customers also start to once again invest in growing their businesses.

“We have also seen increased customer activity in personal banking, with notable demand in areas like private banking, wealth and, increasingly, the mortgage market.

“We have started 2016 very strongly and we look forward to driving more growth for the bank and our customers in the months ahead.”

Over the first few months of this year, pre-tax profits at Danske grew 11% to £35m — suggesting its dominance of the Top 100 may continue next year.

Danske employs 1,400 people across Northern Ireland at 46 branches and four regional finance centres.

The list, which is published tomorrow in an exclusive glossy magazine free with the Belfast Telegraph, reflects an environment of growing profitability among most companies.

Economist John Simpson, who compiles the list from accounts registered with Companies House, said this year’s qualifying level of pre-tax profits had increased to £2.2m – compared to £1.8m last year.

Danske is the only bank operating in Northern Ireland which appears in the Top 100.  The list covers only companies with entities registered in the province, reporting profits for their operations here.  Despite now being part of a Danish operation, Danske Bank in Northern Irealnd still has a locally-registered company.

But despite the absence of the other banks, there are many familiar names in the eagerly-awaited list.

Acknowledging it’s had a “challenging year” in its entry to the Top 100, aerospace giant Bombardier does nonetheless appear.

It’s among stalwart manufacturers of the Northern Ireland economy who hold on to places in the Top 100 – joining titans like tyre pressure monitoring systems company Schrader in Co Antrim, veterinary pharmaceuticals company Norbrook in Newry, Severfield in Co Fermanagh (formerly Fisher Engineering) and Ulster Carpets in Craigavon.

And food companies such as Moy Park, Hilton Foods and Tayto Crisps maker Manderley also appear.

Seven of the top 20 companies reported declining profits but still hold on to places in the upper reaches of the Top 100.

Online Editors

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