North East entrepreneur-led firms thriving, says report

Entrepreneurs in the North are capitalising on the biggest opportunities for growth in the UK, an EY study has shown

Tom White/PA Wire The Tyne Bridge and The Sage Gateshead
The Tyne Bridge and The Sage Gateshead

Entrepreneurs in the North are capitalising on the biggest opportunities for growth in the UK, an EY study has shown.

Entrepreneur-led companies in the region achieved 24% growth in turnover in the past year, beating their counterparts in London and the South (19%), Scotland (17.1%) and the Midlands (12%), according to an analysis of 128 fast-growing businesses interviewed.

The figures, supplied by finalists in EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year, split evenly across the UK, found business leaders in the North are also the most optimistic about the economy, with 83% expecting a significant turnaround. This compared to Scotland (43%), London and South (36%), and the Midlands (30%), although all expected improvement in the next year.

Among those taking part in the survey was Geoffrey Thompson, chief executive of the South Shields-based Utilitywise and a finalist in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2013.

Thompson started the business, now a leading energy management consultancy providing services to a range of commercial customers, in 2006 with only three employees. In its first year, the company generated revenues of £100,000 and made a £5,000 profit. This has now risen to a projected revenue of £25m and EBITDA of £6.9m.

During this period of growth, Thompson has invested heavily in both IT systems and a range of unique energy management products and services.

The latest upbeat news on the region’s growth comes shortly after a presentation by chief executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC), James Ramsbotham, highlighting why people should be confident about doing business in the North East.

At the event in The Vermont Hotel, Newcastle, organised by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), he said the North East was an asset that should be maximised on behalf of UK PLC, offering the benefits of major transport hubs, alongside energy and water surplus.

While the North leads on growth, however, the EY survey suggests Scotland’s entrepreneurs achieved the biggest rates of job creation, growing their workforce by 69% in the past year, compared to 19.2% in the North.

Overall the UK entrepreneurs surveyed achieved an average 17.2% growth in jobs in the past 12 months.

Simon Whiteside, EY Director and North East Entrepreneur Of The Year Leader, said: “The importance of entrepreneurs in leading the economic recovery is clear, with their contribution to the growth, revenue and jobs vastly ahead of the economy in general. It reinforces research by NESTA showing that 6% of outstanding growth companies create half of new, high value jobs.

“The impact on regional economies and confidence cannot be overstated, with entrepreneurs providing a major boost for local innovation, pride and job creation. Innovative and fast-growing businesses have helped the UK regions to become world players in many industries.”

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