‘Positive’ outlook for area’s top companies

The Ricardo electric vehicle demonstrator, a Citro�n Rosalie and the company's original Bridge Works

The Ricardo electric vehicle demonstrator, a Citro�n Rosalie and the company's original Bridge Works

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TOP PERFORMING companies in the Herald and Gazette patch have driven up turnover and increased staffing levels, encouraging economic data has revealed.

Six companies with bases in Worthing, Shoreham and Littlehampton made the top 500 companies in the south, compiled by Taylor Made Computer Solutions and Decision magazine.

The list, drawn together using latest accounts filed with Companies House, includes Ricardo, Bowers and Wilkins, Yeomans, HSBC Invoice Finance, Southern Water and Body Shop International.

Taylor Made managing director Tim Walker said: “The overall picture is positive – it shows a slow but steady rise in turnover and profit as the economy continues to pick up.

“What’s also striking is how much the south’s largest companies contribute – not just in pure financial terms but also in the phenomenal number of people they employ and their contributions to charity and their local communities.”

Among the strongest performers were Shoreham-based Ricardo, which reported a record order book and largest-ever single contract, working with McLaren.

The vehicle engineering and technical company posted turnover of £236.2 million, up nearly three per cent, and increased staffing by five per cent.

Writing in the annual report, chairman Michael Harper said: “I would like to thank all our employees for their hard work and dedication over the past year. “Ricardo is a people business and it is the expertise and commitment of our people, above all in project delivery, that enables us to deliver these results and which underpins our reputation with clients.”

Body Shop International, noticeable on the high street for its ethical bath and body products, has ridden the difficult economic climate strongly.

Turnover increased slightly to £435.7 million and profit soared by 11.5 per cent to £57 million.

The global firm has its head office in Watersmead Business Park, in Littlehampton.

Director Jeremy Shwartz wrote: “The Body Shop secured good Christmas trading around its ‘Give Joy’ programme. The multi-channel agency delivered sustained growth in e-commerce, particularly in the UK and in the US.

“Through an unwavering and consistent implementation of its strategy, putting a focus on generating more innovative products and trailblazing values activities to appeal to an increasingly demanding ethical consumer, The Body Shop is confident in its ability to resist the current tough economic climate and to open the way to achieving sustainable growth worldwide.”

Attractive finance packages have encouraged consumers to purchase new vehicles, according to Yeomans’s yearly accounts summary.

The car dealers, which has several branches in the area, experienced a dip in pre-tax profits due to increased administrative costs but countered this with a ten per cent rise in turnover.

Director James Smith said: “The company’s turnover has increased due to an increase in sales across all departments. This is attributable largely to vehicle manufacturers providing attractive customer finance packages together with significant dealer incentives in order to switch excess vehicle production from poorly performing European markets to the UK.”

Adur and Worthing Chamber of Commerce chief executive Tina Tilley was encouraged by the figures.

She said business were generally happy to see stability and are optimistic about the year ahead.

“It is good to see that there are some strong growth areas, such as Ricardo’s figures, and the indicators are that there are some sectors, technology for example, that are seeing opportunities for growth, but that is not the case for retail,” she added.

“I think that the majority of businesses are happy to see continued stability at this time and are still looking at this year with a cautious optimism.”

View the full list visit www.tmcs.co.uk/top-500-companies-south-2014