Northern Irelands Top 100 family and locally owned businesses are revealed for the first time in a survey carried out by Ulster University Business School on behalf of Harbinson Mulholland Chartered Accountants.
The Top 100 list, revealed today at a launch in Belfast, employs more than 52,000 people across Northern Ireland and is led by W&R Barnett, Norbrook Holdings and John Henderson.
The biggest employer is Almac (9th) with 3,297 staff and the highest pay bill of £130m. For family-controlled businesses, Norbrook employs a total of 2,045, John Graham employs 1,645 and Wrights Group employ 1,552.
While four of the Top 10 show a decrease in pre-tax profits compared to a year ago, one of them – Progressive Building Society - shows an increase of 123%.
In all, 14 of the companies listed showed an increase in pre-tax profit of more than 100% over the previous year. The biggest leap in percentage profit, at 743%, was recorded by men’s fashionwear supplier Douglas & Grahame, whose pre-tax figures went from £212,000 to £1.788 million.
The event also saw the launch of the new Family Business NI Forum, which will be setup by Harbinson Mulholland, accompanied by a call for all family-run businesses - not just those in the top 100 - to register for the forum in May at Belfast’s Ramada Plaza. The first topic ‘The Generation Game’ will focus on the need to look a planning for the future.
Darren McDowell, Partner in the Harbinson Mulholland Accounts and Audit Team, said: “This Top 100 list underlines that family-run and locally owned firms account for a huge proportion of Northern Ireland’s business community and are the backbone of our economy, with 72 of them being family-controlled.
“Such businesses operate across every economic sector and there is no doubt they face unique challenges in maximising financial performance while maintaining family control, as well as tax planning, succession management and introducing new blood into the business.
“We think of our own business as a family affair because of our history and ethos, so we understand what it takes to overcome these hurdles. That’s why we decided to publish this guide as a precursor to the Family Business NI Forum, where people will be able to share experience and advice.”
Michael McQuillan of Ulster University Business School, of which Harbinson Mulholland is patron, said they were delighted to support the project.
“Recent news headlines, from the expansion of Draperstown business Bloc Blinds to threatened job losses at Tayto in Tandragree, underline the importance of local companies in job creation and growing the Northern Ireland economy,” he said.
“We help many family and owner-managed SMEs to move forward more quickly than they would otherwise be able to through access to expertise that would not normally be available to them. The upcoming Forum will be of invaluable support to such businesses.”
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