The Inaugural St Albans Business Barometer

Posted: 28th March 2014, 10:44am

The Inaugural Albans Business Barometer  was launched at our AGM 2014 - Grant Thornton UK 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.


27 MARCH 2014

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.

Key results

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

Employment by the City’s businesses has risen by 9%, 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.

Business size

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% and profitability up 7.4% respectively. This group accounts for 18% of the St Albans top 100 community.

Larger corporates (revenue over £100m) make up 9% 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%.

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


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% 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.

“These companies are the real engine room of the UK economy and it is a positive sign that they have seen year on year growth, a trend that is being mirrored nationally, and suggests that the St Albans business community is well placed to continue to grow in the future.

“However, smaller enterprises remain behind the larger entities, and on the whole, we are yet to see the deployment of cash and debt to support significant capital investment during the period under review for SMEs. If the recovery is to be both balanced and sustainable, we must look to a rise in consumer spending to give businesses the confidence to invest in further growth.”

St Albans was selected for the Business Barometer as a ‘weathervane’ for Hertfordshire with the results pointing to wider economic trends across the county. The report has been conducted to complement Grant Thornton’s annual Hertfordshire Limited study, which provides an analysis of the top 200 independent companies across the county and a health check of the county’s overall business performance.

If you would like to see the findings of this report CLICK HERE

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