Belfast Telegraph

Top 100 companies proving resilient

By Mike Gilson, Editor, Belfast Telegraph

Welcome to the Belfast Telegraph Northern Ireland’s Top 100 Companies, the definitive guide to our biggest companies.

Here you will find a forensic analysis of who the big movers and shakers are in our business world. Profits, turnover and staff numbers are recorded for the record. We undertake this exercise as a snapshot of the health of our private sector. That health check has perhaps never been more important. Over the next few pages a fascinating picture of upturns and downturns in fortunes emerges.

Of course we would not claim for this to be scientific. It is based on company returns for end of 2009 and, given the swiftly changing nature of events right now, is but a snapshot. Certainly when compiling this magazine no-one could have forseen the events surrounding the insurance arm of the Quinn Group, number three in our list, where hundreds of workers now fear for their jobs. Nevertheless the broad picture of the survey paints remains compelling.

We know we are living through fragile and worrying times. The UK came out of recession at the beginning of this year but there are plenty of warnings around that we are by no means out of the wood. What seems certain is that a squeeze on public spending will follow the General Election which is certain to have a disproportionate effect on Northern Ireland.

As important as ever then is the health and wealth of our private sector. That public policy is geared towards allowing it to thrive and that both financial and political support of innovation, expansion and entrepreneurship, is evident have rarely been as important.

Much debate is focused on the political manoeuvrings of our elected representatives yet very little on their economic policies. The recent admission from Stormont’s finance minister Sammy Wilson that the Executive’s report card on economic policy should read “could do better” is welcome. We will watch that space.

Certainly at the Belfast Telegraph we want to support business whether that be by celebrating success or by campaigning for change. I want to see a new era in Northern Ireland in which those bringing wealth and jobs to this country are treated as heroes in the same way our sporting stars are garlanded. This newspaper will play its part.

It has often been said that Northern Ireland’s private sector business have survived much in the last 40 years so there is an inbuilt resilience and a spirit that helps us rise to challenges. Proof of that is here to see.

We are indebted once again to Professor John Simpson, the country’s leading economist, for compiling the list and whose expertise gives the magazine its authenticity.

I hope you enjoy reading it and may the rest of 2010 bring you good fortune.

Belfast Telegraph