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‘Impressive Growth’ Sees South Wales’ Top Businesses Hit £11bn in Turnover

South Wales’ top 200 privately-owned businesses have gone from strength to strength despite recent economic challenges, increasing overall turnover by 19% to reach £11 billion.

Grant Thornton UK LLP has launched its inaugural South Wales Limited report, which analysed private companies in the region and highlighted its top 200 companies as measured by both annual turnover and EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation).

Alongside the notable revenue growth, Grant Thornton’s analysis found that overall profits also increased. The combined EBITDA of the 200 most profitable privately-owned businesses in South Wales rose by 10% on 2022, totalling £1.2 billion.

Motor retail company Sinclair Motor Holdings Limited ranked number one in the report out of all 200 businesses by turnover. By profit, Wales & West Gas Networks (Holdings) Limited topped the list.

The consumer sector in South Wales contributed the highest proportion of overall revenue compared to any other single sector. It achieved a total turnover of £4.4 billion, which represents a 16% increase on the previous year. Despite difficult trading conditions, the sector’s aggregate profit for the year grew by 9% to £311 million.

The Industrials sector followed as the second largest sector by revenue in 2023, with a 17% increase in turnover from 2022 to just under £2 billion. Wales & West Gas Networks (Holdings) Limited ranked first in this sector, followed by Oil 4 Wales Limited and Premier Forest UK Holdings Limited.

The 200 businesses analysed for the South Wales Limited report employ nearly 50,000 people across the region. Some sectors saw particularly significant increases in their headcount during 2023, including healthcare which saw a 32% increase in employee numbers to 4,850, while real estate and construction grew its labour force by 21% to 3,170.

Jamie Roberts, Cardiff-based Corporate Finance Partner at Grant Thornton UK LLP, said:

“The inaugural South Wales Limited report provides a great opportunity to shine a spotlight on the often under reported achievements of the region’s privately owned businesses that do so much to power our national economy. The impressive growth in revenue and profitability is a real testament to the creativity, resilience, and entrepreneurial spirit of the area’s businesses, which has served them well in navigating the complex economic challenges of recent years.

“This success is underlined by the fact that, despite the global M&A slowdown, Wales has continued to experience robust deal volumes. Private equity activity remains strong and corporate acquirers are eager to expand here across a wide range of sectors, including Business Support Services, Technology, Media & Telecom (TMT), and Healthcare to name just a few. Many of these transactions have featured strong ESG aspects, highlighting the importance of this factor within the Welsh economy.

“South Wales has sustained its position as an attractive investment destination for a number of reasons. Alongside the strength of its business community, the region is supported by the recent launch of the Cardiff Capital Region Innovation Fund, the British Business Bank’s Investment Fund for Wales, the presence of the Development Bank of Wales and a range of private equity firms with established bases in Wales such as BGF, LDC, and Foresight as well as a long-established lender community. With this strong and strengthening infrastructure powering the business landscape in South Wales, we’re looking forward to seeing what will be next for South Wales Limited.”

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