Having said famously that “a week is a long time in politics”, I wonder how Harold Wilson might describe a year in a global pandemic, were he with us today. So much has happened since the last Top 100 edition of Ulster Business was published a year ago, yet so little has changed.
At the time of penning this same foreword last July, we had just emerged from the first lockdown period and were – perhaps naively – tentatively optimistic that the end of the pandemic was in sight.
At that time I described Northern Ireland’s Top 100 Northern Ireland Companies as “the constant amid the chaos” that is Covid-19. Fast forward 12 months and the same remains true – because, despite feeling like we can predict so little at present, we can always anticipate with some certainty how the Top 100 list will shape up from year to year.
This year, it is encouraging to note the continued strong performance of the familiar faces at the top end of the list – many of whom have retained their spot during the six years that ALG has supported the Ulster Business Top 100 Companies edition.
As always, it is also positive to track those companies scaling up the rankings year on year, and to welcome new entrants for 2021 – Lidl and Mzuri Group.
Over the past 12 months, at ALG we have been working closely with many of these companies to support them as they navigate through a wide range challenges and legal considerations stemming from COVID-19. However, it is also encouraging to see that investment and transactional activity has not been subdued by the pandemic. In fact, we are seeing the opposite.
In parallel, we have continued to advise on a wide range of Brexit-related legal matters – be it country of origin and the labelling of goods, supply chain review or considerations around the movement of people. One of the greatest challenges for many of the Top 100 Companies remains the continued lack of clarity around Brexit issues – such as how data will be handled between the UK and Europe from 2021 onwards, or the validity of professional qualifications and regulatory certificates in the services sector.
Our offices across Belfast, Dublin, London and the US remain poised and committed to supporting domestic and international clients in overcoming the many challenges facing the business community and realising opportunities for sustainable recovery and growth.
On behalf of our 120-strong team of lawyers and business support professionals at ALG in Belfast, congratulations to each of the Ulster Business Top 100 Companies.