Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Telegraph Top 100 Companies: Renewable energy firm is Northern Ireland's most profitable company

SSE Renewable Onshore leads our Top 100 for 2019

Economist John Simpson
Economist John Simpson
Belfast Telegraph Top 100
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

A renewable energy business is today named Northern Ireland's number one company in the Belfast Telegraph Top 100 Companies in association with Arthur Cox solicitors.

SSE Renewable Onshore has taken the top spot in the prestigious list after declaring pre-tax profits of £107m in the year to March 2018.

Its profit count has dislodged Dankse Bank, which topped the poll every year from 2015 to 2018.

And the threshold to qualify for the Top 100 - which is compiled by economist John Simpson - has this year risen to £4.4m, up from £4.2m in 2018.

The glossy magazine will be launched at a prestigious event attended by top business leaders in Belfast today.

Arthur Cox managing partner Catriona Gibson - which has supported the Top 100 for five years in a row - said: "Each year, the Top 100 provides an insight into the performances of Northern Ireland's leading companies, showcasing a tremendous breadth of firms operating locally - from small family businesses to large international corporations.

"Compiled during a time of wider economic and political uncertainty, the guide presents a welcome opportunity to celebrate the continuing ability of businesses to flourish despite facing myriad external challenges.

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"Congratulations go to all organisations included in the Top 100 guide."

The list is compiled and analysed by economist John Simpson. He said the firms on the list had a total pre-tax profit of £1.880bn, and had racked up employment costs of £2.743bn in employing 80,190 staff.

And he said that overall, the period covered in the company accounts which inform the Top 100 showed a successful year. But he added it had not been a boom year.

"In fact, 2018 overall was a year of slow, but undoubted, expansion," he said.

"The Top 100 league table shows numerous examples of some firms outpacing their rivals."

He said he had drawn the final Top 100 from a study of 300 businesses. And he said small variations of performance from one company to another could result in firms being knocked off the list.

"Starting with the pre-tax cut-off point for the 100th business at £4.4m, there are nine firms with pre-tax profits between £4.4m and £4.9m as well as 12 with results in the range £4m to £4.39m," he said.

"Small changes might move a business from 100th to 90th or 112th place in the rank order."

Looking at the top 20 firms, Mr Simpson selected top performers including four banks, six utility companies, and a port, as well as one large property business and nine private sector trading businesses.

And of the private sector trading businesses, there are family-run firms including W&R Barnett, Norbrook Holdings and Banner Dell, the firm best known for holding the KFC franchise.

W&R Barnett is the highest-placed family company, with pre-tax profits of £46.8m placing it at number 12. It is a global business based in Belfast whose interests include molasses, animal feed, grain and other items.

In its most recent company results - published after the cut-off date for the Top 100 publication - its pre-tax profits were £51.6m, an improvement which would place it at number 10 in the list.

Justin Patty, Arthur Cox, and Jackie Reid and Richard Packenham, Belfast Telegraph.
Justin Patty, Arthur Cox, and Jackie Reid and Richard Packenham, Belfast Telegraph.
Johanna Cunningham, Erin Carruthers, and Katie Millar, Arthur Cox.
Colm McElroy, Arthur Cox and Paul Stanfield, Firmus Energy
Chris Milligan, Mark Jameson, and Stuart Mansfield, Arthur Cox
Linda McKillen and Kellie-Ann Hoey, SHS Group
Margaret Canning, Belfast Telegraph and Lynsey Mallon, Arthur Cox
Rajesh Rana, Andras House, Michael Graham, GRAHAM, and Mark Walker, Hilton
Paul Stanfield, Firmus Energy, Andrew Greer, SSE, and David Black, Arthur Cox
Colm McElroy, Arthur Cox, and Michael Scott, Firmus Energy
John Healy, Allstate NI, Mark Ennis, SSE, Margaret Canning, Belfast Telegraph, Kevin Kingston, Danske Bank, and John Simpson, economist
Cahal Carvill, Arthur Cox, Liam McDonald, Whitemountain, William Curry, Arthur Cox, and Damian Heron, Heron Bros
Simon Campbell, Portview and Alan Taylor, Arthur Cox
Ian Wright, NIIB Group, Claudine Herron, W&R Barnett, and William Thompson, Bank of Ireland
Paul McBride, Arthur Cox and Kevin Lagan, Lagan Specialist Contracting Group

This year, only 3% of the Top 100 companies are led by women.

Christine White, head of business at Diversity Mark NI, which helps companies benchmark their progress on gender diversity, said it was a "shocking" statistic.

"Countless studies back gender diversity as good for business; it adds to the bottom line, increases employee satisfaction and reduces staff turnover," she added.

"The time to act on gender inequality is now and we are calling on all businesses to assess their gender equality procedures."

Belfast Telegraph