Business barometer set fair

Chamber Apr 3

Chamber Apr 3 - Credit: Archant

The Inaugural Albans Business Barometer was launched at our AGM last week and we were delighted to be working with Grant Thornton UK who reviewed the top 100 businesses based within the city of St Albans. Financial and business advisors Grant Thornton chose St Albans as the first city to review in the UK as part of a Business Barometer series.

St Albans’ businesses have delivered year on year growth amidst challenging trading conditions, with mid-sized businesses leading the way, according to a new report launched by business and financial advisers Grant Thornton.

St Albans Business Barometer uses the latest company accounts available to provide a detailed financial analysis of the top 100 companies (both privately and publicly owned, selected by turnover and trading address) and valuable insight into the city’s business landscape.

Presented at the St Albans District Chamber of Commerce AGM on Thursday, March 27, the findings show that combined turnover of the top businesses in the city has increased by 0.6 per cent in the period under review to over £8.8bn, and combined profits were also up by 8 per cent to over £550m (measured by EBITDA: earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation).

Employment by the city’s businesses has risen by 9 per cent, when the impacts of a major restructuring in one of the largest businesses is removed, and is well above the national average. However, average wages have remained static and fallen in real terms, but remain above the national average.

Breaking down the findings by business size shows that mid-corporates (revenues between £25m and £100m) have delivered impressive results across all the key performance indicators and were the first group to start investing ahead of the economic upturn, with turnover up 16.9 per cent and profitability up 7.4 per cent respectively. This group accounts for 18 per cent of the St Albans top 100 community. Larger corporates (revenue over £100m) make up 9 per cent of the business community in St Albans, heavily dominated by Murphy Petroleum Limited and Premier Foods PLC, the city’s two largest companies. As a group, the largest businesses’ turnover remained flat, although profit increased by 23.4 per cent.

SMEs (with revenue below £25m), the largest group in the survey by number, constituting 73 per cent of the top 100 businesses reviewed, remain under increased pressure with turnover down by 0.8 per cent.

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Jeremy Read, partner at Grant Thornton leading the review, commented: “The results represent a strong overall performance, particularly as much of the data relates to the period before the full national economic recovery became visible.

“St Albans is a very diverse business community comprised of nine key sectors, six of which are relatively evenly sized.

“The results show that 75 per cent of the top 100 businesses are independently owned. This is really important as it shows the vast majority of businesses in St Albans are led by autonomous local decision makers, who could have greater impacts on local policies and market structures.

If you would like to see the findings of this report go the news page of the Chamber website or call the office.

Another very exciting launch this week is our Community Business Awards 2014 – we have six categories this year, New Business, Green Business, Young Person, Business Leader of the Year, Best Restaurant, Corporate Social Responsibility and The President’s Award. Nomination forms are now on our website, the closing date for entries is June 30. The Awards Gala Evening will take place in the spectacular setting of St Albans Cathedral on Thursday, September 25 on the first night of the St Albans Flower Festival – would your company like to be our event sponsor? Please get in touch with us for further details.

We welcome the following new business to the Chamber: Forex Brokers Ltd, R & J Catering at Porters Park Ltd, St Albans City Football Club, Solo Office Products Ltd, We look forward to working with them in the future and helping them raise their business profile in the area.