Worcestershire manufacturing thriving, but skills remain a concern

Worcs Growth Report

Accountants and business advisory firm BDO has published its third annual Worcestershire Growth Barometer, revealing that manufacturing in particular across the county is thriving.

The county’s top 10 businesses contribute £3.15 billion in revenue and employ around 32,000 staff. Stuart Emmerson, investment manager with Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which worked with BDO to survey businesses in Worcestershire for the report, calls them “pivotal anchor brand names.”

Over the last three years, manufacturing turnover has consistently outperformed other sectors.  And this year the manufacturing sector income more than doubled that of the next-best performing industry, retail. In last year’s Barometer, the two sectors were almost on a par.

Another eye-opening trend is the extent to which the food and agriculture sector has lost force within the Barometer. In BCO’s first Worcestershire Growth Barometer, it was the third-largest industry. This year, it is second to last.

Each year’s list is made up of companies that have grown the fastest in the county over the previous three years.

Worcestershire leaders such as Halfords, GKN and Bosch attract investment from around the world and, particularly through their supply chains, provide opportunities and incentives to locate here. They are vital to the success of the local economy,” says Start Emmerson, at the LEP

But one big concern is the skills shortage.

29 per cent of businesses in Worcestershire cite skilled staffing as their biggest worry, with 17 per cent most concerned about Brexit.

The top 50 fastest growing companies in Worcestershire have grown by 51 per cent in three years, contributing £3.15 billion in turnover and have increased employment by 44 per cent.

Infrastructure and real estate are also stumbling blocks for the business community. But some of these issues are now being addressed in the county, with initiatives such as the 5G testbed promising to put Worcestershire at the forefront of technological innovation in the UK.

Wyre Forest-based multi brand franchisor Franchise Brands and Redditch-based business process outsourcer Sanclare (UK) Ltd came out of nowhere to take top two slots in this year’s 50 fastest-growing companies in Worcestershire. Victoria Plc drops a place but is still in the top three, while Aspens rises two places to number four. Rounding off the top five is newcomer Queen’s Award-winning Metrasens.

Another company in the top 50 is Sprint Group which designs equipment for the foodservice, catering and hospitality industry and supply high performance commercial kitchen, bar, refrigeration and ventilation equipment to well-known eateries such as Brasserie Blanc, Bill’s, Giraffe, the Ivy Collection, Tesco and Champneys, as well as schools and colleges nationwide.

Tom Bartley-Smith, Sprint’s Managing Director, said: “I am so pleased to be in the Top 50 fastest growing businesses in Worcestershire for the second year running. It really is testament to the quality of our staff and their hard work.”

Director and Head of BDO Worcestershire, Gary Rouse, said: “One key finding is that 14 of our top 50 companies have been on the list for the last three years, which shows they are pursuing highly sustainable growth strategies. This could put them on course to become major players in the UK business arena.”