Berkshire bounce back confirmed in new report

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Berkshire’s privately-owned businesses have gone from strength to strength despite the recent economic challenges, achieving a combined turnover of almost £8 billion last year according to new data from Grant Thornton UK LLP.

The leading business and financial adviser’s inaugural Berkshire Limited report, unveiled this week, analysed private companies in the region and highlighted the county’s top 50 companies* as measured by revenue growth and by average EBITDA (earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortisation) margin.

This analysis revealed a 23% year-on-year growth in revenue totalling £7,896 million, as well as a significant rise in last year’s total EBITDA to £371 million, a 12% increase on 2022.

The county’s technology, media and telecoms (“TMT”) sector contributed the highest proportion of overall revenue, at £4,749 million, a 13% increase on the previous year. This included a remarkable amount of profit, with EBITDA growing by 30% to hit £217 million.

Notable Berkshire companies in this space include Westcoast Group Holdings Ltd, the Reading based UK distributor for many global IT brands, which recorded the sector’s largest turnover at £3,627m. Business software firm Iris Software Ltd, 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% increase in turnover from 2022 to £1,246 million. The Slough based furniture retailer Furniture Village Holdings Ltd was the county’s number one consumer business by turnover last year, with Travel Up Group Plc second, having achieved 784% growth rate over the last three years.

When ranked by turnover over the past three years, Travel Up Group Plc was also identified as Berkshire’s top performing business. Iris Software Ltd came out on top when the firms were arranged by average EBITDA margin for the same time period.

Multiple other sectors were found to have performed well, with healthcare, industrials, and real estate & 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% 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 UK LLP, 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, as 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.”

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