Sales up but profits remain elusive for some Solent 250 companies
Turnovers have risen at the Solent 250 grouping of the top private companies – but there are many businesses that are making small or negligible profits or, indeed, none at all
The downturn has taken its toll on the bottom line of the top independent businesses in the region as margins have been squeezed across diverse sectors.
Our top 250 list has a combined turnover of £11.94 billion, up from £11.1b. Employing 82,000 people, these companies make a significant contribution to the economy of the South East.
At the top of the list is Arqiva, the Winchester-headquartered leader in communications infrastructure. With sales of more than £800 million, Arqiva is a major WiFi provider for businesses, providing services for key clients such as Heathrow Airport.
The company provided the transmission capability for the Government’s first Budget broadcast in 1928, and was behind the first satellite TV tests in 1978. Other ’firsts’ included the world’s first digital terrestrial TV launch in 1998 and the world’s first outsourced mobile phone network in 2001.
The Solent 250 represents a wealth of locally-headquartered businesses, including household names such as Fitness First, Fat Face, Sunseeker and Lush.
Fitness First is second in the list with a turnover of more than £600m. With over 80 UK clubs, Fitness First is the largest privately-owned health and fitness group in the world, with over one million members globally.
Recently, Andy Cosslett, former CEO of InterContinental Hotels Group, has been appointed to the top job at Fitness First, and aims to get the company back into profit. He has already said he wants the Poole-based company, as it grows, to remain privately owned.
Third in the list is the University of Southampton, posting profits of £14.2m on £438m turnover. The university has always been at the forefront of innovation and recently switched on one of the most powerful supercomputers in the UK, cementing its pre-eminent position in high-performance computing.