Big changes in the qualifying group
In a stable business community, identifying the important businesses would be expected to reflect a degree of continuity, year to year, with only a small amount of ‘churn’.
Some large businesses will go up and down the league table, based on size and profits but the number of new entrants, or the number of leavers, might be only a small percentage of the final list of 100.
The Top 100 list now finalised posed a demanding test of that assumption. Of the 100 now listed, with some surprises, 23 of the businesses are new to the list and, logically, 23 which were included a year ago, have not qualified for inclusion.
In support of a search for stability, one feature stands out. Despite the mobility of businesses within this listing, none of the 2018 entries has closed. There has been a small number of mergers and restructuring changes but no single closure. However, even that reassurance calls for some reservations.
The scale of changes in profitability, for many businesses, has been large.
Of the 23 businesses joining the list:
Three are newly identified emerging businesses
20 are businesses which recorded an increase in pre-tax profits to over £4.4m from a lower profit figure a year ago
Of the 23 businesses leaving the list:
One now only operates outside NI
22 are businesses where recorded pre-tax profits, which were high enough to qualify for inclusion in 2018, have more recently fallen below £4.4m
Of the Top 100, several have registered significant profit increases often in the form of one-off revaluations or restatements, including:
SSE Renewables Onshore: an increase of nearly £50m
Killultagh Holdings: a change of nearly £100m on the previous year
Encirc: a change of nearly £40m on a previous year
Banner Dell: a change of nearly £30m on a previous year
Decreases in pre-tax profits have been conspicuous for some large businesses. Most of the large decreases can be attributed to exceptional costs, capital write-down or impairments taken on to the profit and loss account. Consequently, these decreases are not necessarily an indication of a long-term trading failure. Some of the bigger adjustments affecting businesses leaving the list apply to:
AES after a write-down, posting a loss of £76.4m Randox Holdings after posting an exceptional loss of £11.2m
Caterpillar Corporation after posting an exceptional loss of £20.9m
Wrights Group after a fall in profits of £9m Northstone after a fall in profits of over £4m
Ten of the businesses falling out of the list this year could be described as still coming within a short distance of qualification. Similarly 12 of the newly qualified businesses are, essentially, businesses recording a useful profits increase in normal trading.