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Berkshire businesses bounce back across sectors, finds Grant Thornton

27 March 2024
The Business Magazine article image for: Berkshire businesses bounce back across sectors, finds Grant Thornton
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Berkshire’s privately-owned businesses have gone from strength to strength despite recent economic challenges – this according to new data from professional services network Grant Thornton.

The firm released its inaugural Berkshire Limited report this week, analysing private companies in the region and highlighting the county’s top 50 companies as measured by revenue growth and average EBITDA.

In all, it found that businesses across the county achieved a combined turnover of almost £8 billion last year, with revenues up 23 per cent year-on-year.

The technology, media and telecoms (TMT) sector contributed the highest proportion of overall revenue at £4.7 billion, a 13 per cent increase on the previous year. This was accompanied by remarkable profits, with EBITDA growing by 30 per cent to hit £217 million.  

Notable Berkshire companies in this space include Westcoast Group Holdings, a Reading-based UK distributor for many global IT brands, which recorded the sector’s largest turnover at £3.6 billion.

Business software firm Iris Software, which has the third highest turnover in the sector, also achieved the highest reported EBITDA margin.

The consumer market followed as the second largest sector by revenue in 2023, with a 59 per cent increase in turnover from 2022 to £1.2 billion.

Slough-based furniture retailer Furniture Village Holdings was the county’s number one consumer business by turnover last year. Travel Up Group Plc came second, having achieved a 784 per cent growth rate over the last three years. 

Multiple other sectors were found to have performed well, with healthcare, industrials, and real estate and construction all recording increases in turnover, EBITDA and employee headcount during the past year.

While a comparatively smaller section of Berkshire’s economy, healthcare recorded the largest EBITDA increase of any sector, growing by 55 per cent in 2023 to reach a total of £19 million.

This performance was likely buoyed by Berkshire’s proximity to the Golden Triangle of leading universities, as well as real estate activity in the sector.

Will Rose, Reading-based corporate finance director at Grant Thornton, said: “The inaugural Berkshire Limited report provides a great snapshot of the county’s economy, how it’s dealt with recent challenges and where its strengths lie.

“The exceptionally strong growth in revenue is particularly impressive given the recent recession news and the profit results prove that Berkshire’s top businesses are in a robust position.

“In many ways, the county’s top performing firms are really bucking the national trend. In place of sluggish growth and low productivity, Berkshire is proving itself to be a really strong market with one of the UK’s highest growth per capita results.

“This is a real testament to the agility and innovative nature of the region’s businesses, who have managed to successfully navigate the long list of challenges that have been thrown at them in recent years.

“While the tech sector continues to perform well, it’s important to note that Berkshire has a diversified economy, with many sectors posting record profits.

“The success of the county is a multifaceted issue, but its skilled workforce, network of high-performing firms, established supply chain, London connections and investor ecosystem all help create a first-class business landscape.”

Born and raised in Berkshire, Dan fell into journalism after completing his bachelor’s degree in English at UCL.

Writing for The Business Magazine and local Biz News sites has given him the opportunity to chat with all manner of small business owners and share their success stories with a wider audience.

Outside of work, Dan enjoys live music, board games and quiz shows, and is making a slow but persistent effort to learn Spanish.

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