Belfast Telegraph

Who has top spot in Belfast Telegraph's Top 100 companies for 2016

Danske Bank tops the list of Northern Ireland's leading firms as profits climb 40% to £139m

By Margaret Canning

Danske Bank is 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, recorded pre-tax profits of £139.7m - more than double those of the company in the number two position and a 40% jump on last year.

>>The Belfast Telegraph Top 100 is available with today's paper<<

Danske said it was "delighted" at claiming the top spot once more and added its success was down to tight control of costs and the improving economy, particularly renewed health in the housing/mortgage market.

The improved property market also meant it no longer had to set aside money to cover bad debts, known as impairments.

Chief executive Mr 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 also told how the bank had 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," Mr Kingston said.

"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 could continue next year.

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

The latest Belfast Telegraph Top 100 Companies list, which is published free today with this newspaper, reflects an environment of growing profitability among most companies.

Economist John Simpson, who compiles the results 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 here that appears in the Top 100.

The list covers only companies with entities registered in the province, reporting profits for their operations here.

While it now forms part of a much larger Danish operation, Danske Bank in Northern Ireland still has a locally registered company.

Despite the absence of the other banks, there are many familiar names in the eagerly anticipated list.

Aerospace giant Bombardier, which admitted it had experienced a "challenging year", appears in the top 100.

It is among stalwart manufacturing companies such as 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.

Food firms such as Moy Park, Hilton Foods and Tayto crisps maker Manderley also show up in the results.

Seven of the top 20 companies reported declining profits, but they still held onto their coveted places in the upper reaches of the top 100.

Belfast Telegraph