John Simp­son

Belfast Telegraph - Top 100 Northern Ireland Companies - - CONTENTS - By John Simp­son

The year 2018 has been a con­tin­u­ing success story for a broad range of firms do­ing busi­ness in, or from, North­ern Ire­land or owned by North­ern Ire­land based peo­ple. To qual­ify as one of the Top 100 the min­i­mum level of pre-tax profit has in­creased year by year.

Se­lect­ing a num­ber of busi­nesses to be placed in a league ta­ble show­ing chang­ing de­grees of success is re­veal­ing.

Iden­ti­fy­ing success is al­to­gether more sat­is­fy­ing than re­port­ing when things go wrong.

2018 was not a boom year: in fact 2018 over­all was a year of slow, but un­doubted, ex­pan­sion.

The Top 100 league ta­ble shows nu­mer­ous ex­am­ples of some firms out­pac­ing their ri­vals.

The cri­te­rion for se­lec­tion is eas­ily stated. A yard­stick to al­low a league ta­ble to be de­vised was needed and, as in other re­cent years, we focused on ev­i­dence of prof­itabil­ity.

To de­velop a co­her­ent base, we em­pha­sised the earn­ing of pre-tax prof­its.

Just to use one in­di­ca­tor, such as pre-tax prof­its, is not al­ways a use­ful stand­alone com­para­tor.

Busi­ness events, par­tic­u­larly unusual cir­cum­stances some­times cre­at­ing ex­cep­tional income, or gains, or ex­cep­tional losses or im­pair­ment de­duc­tions, which mean that year to year com­para­tors can be less re­li­able as point­ers to trends of change.

Nev­er­the­less, to re­tain a stan­dard pre­sen­ta­tion af­fect­ing all busi­nesses in a pro­fes­sion­ally con­sis­tent way, the Top 100 have been ranked af­ter analysing sev­eral hun­dred sets of reg­is­tered ac­counts and com­piled from a very long list of lo­cally reg­is­tered busi­nesses.

List­ing over 300 busi­nesses in rank or­der by pre-tax prof­its is a re­veal­ing exercise. One fea­ture de­serves spe­cial men­tion.

Since pre-tax prof­its for any in­di­vid­ual firm can vary widely from one year to an­other, small changes in pre-tax prof­its can move a spe­cific busi­ness many places up or down the list.

To il­lus­trate this fea­ture, start­ing with the pre-tax cut-off point for the 100th busi­ness at £4.4m, there are nine firms with pre-tax prof­its be­tween £4.4m and £4.9m as well as 12 with re­sults in the range £4.0m to £4.39m.

Small changes might move a busi­ness from 100th to 90th or 112th place in the rank or­der.

In the lan­guage of the statis­ti­cians, a Top 100 list, year to year, is sub­ject to a ma­jor de­gree of churn with­out that churn in­di­cat­ing ei­ther ma­jor suc­cesses or fail­ure in the league ta­ble.

Of busi­nesses which were in­cluded in 2018, 23 have left the list but none have closed. And 23 have joined the list, most be­cause of an im­proved level of prof­itabil­ity.

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