Belfast Telegraph

Danske Bank tops list of Northern Ireland firms for third year in row

By Margaret Canning

Danske Bank is once again the number one company in Northern Ireland, according to the Belfast Telegraph Top 100 Companies 2017 in association with Arthur Cox.

The chart, which will be given away with the Belfast Telegraph tomorrow, features the most profitable Northern Ireland-registered firms, from big manufacturers with international owners - like plane maker Bombardier - to Norbrook Holdings, the Newry veterinary pharmaceutical company and the highest-placed home-owned business.

Danske Bank staked its claim to the top spot for the third year in a row with pre-tax profits of £117m for 2016, down 18% on the previous 12 months.

Bombardier is also highly-placed with £61m in pre-tax profits, while Norbrook Holdings had pre-tax profits of £35.5m.

The publication features in-depth profiles of the 100 companies, and cutting-edge commentary and insights from Northern Ireland's top business leaders and commentators.

The remaining companies in the Top 100 operate in a range of sectors from agri-food - creating products from animal feeds to cooked-egg products - to tech companies and manufacturers of aeroplane seating.

Economist John Simpson, who compiled the Top 100 for the 22nd year in a row, said the list presented a positive view of the private sector's performance.

"The perception of a poor private sector response to the challenge of rebuilding the economy can be seen as unfair. Larger businesses in the private sector have been growing and growing appreciably in terms of the wider impact on the economy," he said, adding that the qualifying criteria in profit terms had increased, from last year's threshold of £2.2m to this year's threshold for the company at number 100 of £3.2m.

"The important headline made possible by this work is that there is firm evidence that Northern Ireland has a group of mainly successful businesses whose performances have been improving," he said.

"In contrast to other frequent statistical comments on the strength of the local private sector, there is a large and significant group of businesses which are trading, on average, modestly successfully."

Writing in the glossy 64-page publication, Ann McGregor, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the success of the profit-makers profiled in the Top 100 reflected the 'can do' attitude of business. And she said that attitude would prevail regardless of the local political stalemate.

"If companies in Northern Ireland were to sit back and wait for political perfection before taking ambitious decisions and making investments, then the decisions and the investments would never be made," she said.

"The companies detailed in this supplement are testament to the determination and commitment of Northern Ireland business people to continue to drive for increased growth despite the wider political and geo-economic factors".

Belfast Telegraph