This is how the 250 biggest firms in Yorkshire are defying Brexit

Mark Langford, audit partner at the Leeds office of BDO.
Mark Langford, audit partner at the Leeds office of BDO.
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The largest companies in Yorkshire delivered double-digit growth over the last year, according to a new report launched today by accountancy firm BDO.

The Yorkshire Report reveals that the 10 per cent increase in turnover was accompanied by even stronger increases in key measures of profitability.

The top 250 companies also demonstrated their economic and social value with the net creation of more than 11,000 new jobs.

Mark Langford, audit partner at the Leeds office BDO, said: “The impressive all-round performance flies in the face of ongoing political uncertainty and shows Yorkshire business leaders have been pushing ahead with growth plans, whatever the potential outcome of Brexit.”

The annual report highlighted the importance of the region’s mid-market, the 200 companies listed after the top 50. They grew overseas turnover by nearly 23 per cent to £4.3bn, given a helping hand by competitive exchange rates.

Overall, Yorkshire’s mid-market generated turnover growth of 11 per cent to £31.5bn.

Turnover for the top 250 reached a record £117.8bn. This growth did not come at the expense of margins: operating profits for the group rose by 25 per cent to £7.5bn.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation rose by 18 per cent to £11.1bn over the period.

The profitability figures indicate that double-digit growth is generating strong returns, an encouraging sign of robust corporate health which bodes well for the future, the report said.

The 2019 report provides a stark contrast to last year’s findings which showed growth in corporate Yorkshire was virtually non-existent with boards focused instead on lean operations and preserving profitability.

Mr Langford said: “Yorkshire business leaders couldn’t wait forever. Tiring of the continuing political and economic instability, the latest BDO Yorkshire Report suggests they have decided to just get on with it and go for growth.

“Once again, it is our mid-market companies that are the strongest engines of economic growth and job creation.

“These are ambitious, outward-looking businesses who are flying the flag for UK plc across the world. They are vital not only for Yorkshire but also the UK as a whole, as we continue to steer a course through unchartered waters.

“The UK economy is at a crossroads with new technology, new international relationships, new markets and new politics creating unprecedented uncertainty for many Yorkshire businesses.

“Since 2016, as part of its New Economy campaign, BDO has been calling on the government to make effective investments to create the right environment for business and local communities to flourish in the regions outside of London and the South, in order to create regional powerhouses across the nation.

“The Government has been distracted in this regard for far too long.”

The major players driving turnover growth this year were Northallerton-based ice cream giant Froneri, Bradford-based FTSE100 supermarket Morrisons and Leeds-based leisure, travel and logistics group Dart Group.

Standout performers for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation included Drax, the Selby-based power generation company.