Nifco UK tipped to join Nissan at head of Top 200 table

There'll be soarers and sliders, of course, in the new Top 200 North East companies table that appears exclusively in The Journal on October 30

Mike Matthews
Mike Matthews

There'll be soarers and sliders, of course, in the new Top 200 North East companies table that appears exclusively in The Journal on October 30.

But it’s likely that the manufacturers and suppliers in automotives, like the oil and gas gatherers, will incline to rise rather than fall, their sectors having emerged from the recession in good shape.

That Nissan, chart-topper for two years past, will be in contention for a hat-trick goes almost without saying, given its prolific production of various models currently. But another impressive name to check will be Nifco, the Eaglescliffe manufacturer of plastic parts going into not only Nissans but Toyotas, Fords, Hondas and other makes.

Nifco UK, established in 1990 on acquiring Elta Plastics, crept into the Top 200 for the first time last year at 197th with turnover of £32.4m. With its subsequent £40.9m now, it could conceivably leap 43 places to 154 unless firms immediately above it last year have had 12 scintillating months also.

Managing director Mike Matthews – who’s also European operations officer – has forecast an ongoing rise in sales to £68m over the next two years.

In chemicals and pharmaceuticals there should be some risers. Aesica Pharmaceuticals was another high riser last year – climbing 28 places to 45th. It got there on sales of £154m, and with something nearer £200m signalled this time it could, under chief executive Dr Robert Hardy, be anything up to 14 rungs higher.

Aesica distinguished itself this year already by filling 116th slot in the Sunday Times Top 200 British private companies showing fastest-growing overseas sales. Also in that distinguished crowd were four North East manufacturers: GT Group of County Durham (precision engineering), Crabtree of Gateshead (printing machines), SMD of Newcastle (subsea) and Reece Group also of Newcastle (defence equipment). How might their over-all performances stand up to the regional revenues tally?

You would expect food and drink to be a stable business even in difficult economic times. People still have to eat and drink and cutbacks they make on the normal shopping list are often offset somewhat by comfort food purchases. That Greggs recently reported a 2.9% drop in like-for-like sales over the past six months probably indicates the intensified competition which chief executive Roger Whiteside acknowledges exists now in the food-to-go business. Greggs’ position will be known better after a trading statement today.

The R&R ice cream business (alias Richmond Foods), recently bought by a Paris-based private equity group, surprised many last month with its announcement of post-tax losses. So both its position as 15th currently, and that of Greggs at ninth, will be of special interest when the new list appears, especially as R&R chief executive James Lambert has just been named entrepreneur of the year at Ernst Young annual awards.

One firm likely to stay on the positive side in food and drink is Ringtons, which has nudged its sales up £6m from the £35.6m that took it up three places to 176 last year.

Barclays is a sponsor of this year’s Top 200, as is Newcastle law firm Sintons where partner and head of company and commercial Karen Simms said: “Sintons works with many of the North East’s leading businesses to support them as they grow and develop into thriving ventures with presence nationally and internationally.”

Brian Thorpe, head of North East and Cumbria for Barclays, added: “Barclays are delighted to sponsor the highest climber award at The Journal’s Top 200 breakfast.

"The awards celebrate the success of the biggest companies in the region and we have some wonderful businesses located in the North East which exhibit real global reach and innovation.

"I am proud that Barclays can support and celebrate the companies that play a vital role in the success of the region at this prestigious event.”

To be assessed for inclusion in The Top 200 listings, companies must have submitted their latest annual accounts to Companies House by September 30.



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