Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland top 100 companies report 80% increase in profits

Moy Park boss gives first interview as firm stays on top of revenue list

By Ryan McAleer

Northern Ireland's biggest companies have boosted their profits by almost 80% in the space of a year.

A comprehensive analysis of the latest accounts of the province's 100 biggest companies has revealed that the combined pre-tax profits registered by those on the list rose from £517.5m to £924.9m in a year.

Ranked in order of annual turnover, the list by Ulster Business magazine has been topped by Moy Park for the seventh year running. The Craigavon-based poultry giant, which was bought over by US food firm Pilgrim's Pride last year, recorded a turnover of £1.4bn.

Overall, turnover among top 100 increased by around 9%, rising from £21.88bn to £23.85bn, when comparing company accounts, year-on-year.

This year has seen some exceptional sales performances, including Hillsborough-based John Graham Holdings Ltd, which trades as Graham Construction.

It saw one of the biggest leaps on the list, soaring more than £200m in turnover and rising to fifth, while grain and animal feed producer, W&R Barnett, is now the only other company on the list to join the 'billion pound club'.

However, Co Tyrone fuel wholesaler LCC Group is fast approaching the mark with its turnover soaring to £852.8m, up from £584.7m.

Speaking in his first interview since he took over the top role of Moy Park from Janet McCollum in May, Chris Kirke told Ulster Business while it may be based in Co Armagh, he considers it very much a European business.

"When you look at the organisation, they are client-based. We have an A-list of clients," he said.

Born in London, Chris Kirke was formerly with the Greencore group in the US.

Just three months into his term as company president, he painted an optimistic picture of Moy Park's prospects.

"The facilities are fantastic, well-invested and capital spent in the right places," he said.

"The values centre around the people and the development. It is a business with a long heritage and the outlook for the business is fantastic."

On the future and the jobs front, the Moy Park boss said Craigavon will remain its thriving hub.

"I want the business to become a food business. At the moment we are a primary processing business," he said.

That could include a range of new 'added value' areas and convenience foods.

"We need to expand larger categories than those we are in now. In terms of Craigavon, this is our corporate centre and our home," Mr Kirke said,

Paying tribute to his predecessor, Janet McCollum, who was Moy Park chief for four years, but rose through the ranks of the business over the course of a 25-year career, he added: "I think Janet built an unbelievable organisation. I think I bring some new eyes, and some different ways of working. I know this from roles I have previously done.

"When someone takes over, they do things in a slightly different way and it grows again."

The 2018 Ulster Business top 100 list features more than a dozen new entrants from right across the business spectrum. They include Belfast technology firm Kainos, Draperstown construction company Heron Bros, and Mac Interiors, based in Newry.

Omagh-based Strathroy Dairy has joined the list at number 99, after posting a £20m surge in turnover, while Dale Farm shot up into the top 10.

Sponsored by A&L Goodbody, the bumper edition of the leading business magazine, is out now. It features in-depth analysis of Northern Ireland business, showcases the biggest companies across the region, ranked by turnover.

Editor John Mulgrew said the list is another clear example of the strength of Northern Ireland's business landscape, right across the sectors.

"The majority of company results have taken place during the ongoing stasis, with a lack of a devolved government in Northern Ireland, which makes the huge surges in profit, and turnover, even more impressive," he added.

Belfast Telegraph

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