SSE is top company

Snakes and ladders as Scotland’s top 500 revealed

SSEEnergy firm SSE, trading as Scottish Hydro Electric, has taken top spot in this year’s listing of Scotland’s Top 500 companies, replacing Standard Life which has slipped to number four.

Pre tax profits at SSE soared from £575 million to £735m on a £1.1 billion rise in group revenue  to £31.6bn.

Another major change was Royal Bank of Scotland returning to the top ten. It shot up from from 287th to number two – the biggest rank climber this year – after making a pre tax profit of £2.64bn, against an £8.2bn loss last time.

RBS made an attributable loss of £3.5bn after a £4bn writedown on its former US arm Citizens as it continues to restructure.

Alasdair Northrop, editor of Scottish Business Insider which compiles the annual list, said this year’s Top 500 resembled a game of snakes and ladders for a number of companies with some notable high climbers but also a number of significant companies tumbling down the table.

“There is no doubt that it reflects some of the dramatic changes in the Scottish economy with the banks and other sectors getting back on track while oil and gas companies were badly hit by the plunge in the price of Brent crude,” he said.

Overall the Top 500 saw a 33.8% jump in profits to £8.87bn but a 2.83% decrease in turnover to £184.61bn.

But if the banks are excluded total turnover fell by 1.94% to £158.8bn and overall profits fell 17.1%.

However, Northrop said the overall figures have been distorted by big losses at five oil and gas companies. Enquest, Faroe Petroleum, Ithaca Energy, Petrofac Scotland and Taqa Bratani.

Excluding the five biggest loss makers and the banks, profits soared by 44.5% to £9.96bn and turnover grew by 2.27% to £159.24bn. Employee numbers rose by 0.11%. Profit per employee soared from £12,112 to £17,489.

As a result there are 72 new entries in the Top 500.

The majority of companies – 298  – enjoyed profit growth, the same number as the previous year.

A total of 167 companies had a reduction in profits or made a loss.

Some 33 companies went from loss into profit and eight loss makers had a lower loss than last time. A total of 12 loss makers had a worse loss.

The top ten (with the previous year’s ranking in brackets):

  1. (3)SSE
  2. (287)Royal Bank
  3. (2)Bank of Scotland.
  4. (1) Standard Life
  5. (4) Scottish Widows
  6. (6) John Wood group
  7. (7) Weir Group
  8. (22) Aegon
  9. 9 (9) Aggreko
  10. 10 (16) Subsea 7

The Insider Top 500 monitors all Scottish registered companies with turnover of more than £20m.

They are ranked by turnover, then by pre tax profits. The rankings are then combined to reflect both the size and profitability of the companies.

Royal Bank of Scotland made an attributable loss of £3.5bn after a £4bn write down on its former US arm Citizens as it continues to go through restructuring. But in order to provide a consistent measure Insider always uses the pre tax profit figure.

The full list appears in Scottish Business Insider


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