Greggs and Northgate PLC go head-to-head for national business award

The North East firms are among the shortlist for the UK PLC Awards 2014 which will be held in London

Greggs on Neville Street, Newcastle City Centre
Greggs on Neville Street, Newcastle City Centre

Two of the North East’s most prominent firms will compete for a national award recognising recovery in their businesses.

Newcastle-based bakers Greggs and Darlington commercial vehicle hire firm Northgate PLC, will go head-to-head in this year’s Turnaround Business of the Year category at the UK PLC awards to be announced at a London ceremony in March.

Greggs has experienced a substantial uplift in sales since former Punch Taverns boss Roger Whiteside took the reins and refocused the brand to concentrate on the fast growing “food-on-the-go” market.

In the first half of last year the firm saw sales increase by 3.1% to £373m and pre-tax profits rise by 48% to £16.9m.

Greggs is now confident that full year results for 2014 will be ahead of analysts’ expectations. The firm’s share price has risen by 101% over the last five years.

In summer last year Northgate PLC announced a return to growth having experiencing a slowdown in demand across its UK and Spanish in the years preceding.

One of the vehicles hired out by van hire group, Northgate Vehicle Hire
One of the vehicles hired out by van hire group, Northgate Vehicle Hire

Progess was the result of significant turnaround plan, implemented in the years before which cut debts and neatly doubled annual profits. The firm’s share price has risen around 127% over the last five years.

Also shortlisted is Newcastle-based Go-Ahead Group, in the Best Investor Communication Award.

Bill MacLeod, PwC’s senior partner in Newcastle, said: “Both Northgate and Greggs are long established North East companies, who have come through the recession in good shape, and so it is great that they are being recognised for these awards and representing the region’s PLCs on a national stage.”

Last year’s Turnaround Business of the Year award was scooped by travel operator Thomas Cook Group.

The UK PLC Awards, sponsored by PwC, showcase the best mid-market companies and aim to draw attention to the importance of PLCs to the UK economy.

As a major city event, the awards are now in their 28th year and are produced jointly with PwC and Ford Sinclair.

1,700 guests, including quoted companies, investment banks and fund managers will gather on March 19 at the Grosvenor House Hotel to applaud the winners.

The guestlist is also expected to include chief executives, financial directors, analysts and corporate advisors.

Sponsors of the event include PwC, the London Stock Exchange and numerous City broking and banking houses, including Winterflood Securities, Canaccord Genuity and finnCap.

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