Businesses are being urged to take more risks to help boost the wider regional economy in a new report on the biggest firms in Norfolk.

The report, which was compiled by Lovewell Blake, found that the total turnover for the top 100 companies in the county was up 17pc on last year at £4.383bn.

The group with the largest turnover growth was the oil, gas, and energy sector, which reported an increase of 52.9pc on last year, bringing its total to £72.4m.

Eastern Daily Press: Total turnover by sectorTotal turnover by sector (Image: Norfolk Limited)

The retail and leisure sectors also experienced strong turnover growth, with firms reporting a 27pc increase in turnover - a positive sign that the industry is bouncing back after last year's significant contraction due to Covid lockdowns.

And while shareholder funds were also up across the board - growing 12.2pc on last year to £159m - Mr Barnes said this could indicate firms are “playing it too safe” because of “residual nervousness”.

Eastern Daily Press: Total share holder funds by sectorTotal share holder funds by sector (Image: Norfolk Limited)

He added: “What’s really coming through is that businesses could do with taking more risks.

“On one level we have more cash on the balance sheet which is obviously good, but on another level it suggests firms could be deferring projects or investments which would benefit the wider regional economy.

“The bigger the risk the bigger the return, and while not having companies fail is a good thing, we don’t want to see things stagnate.”

Evidence of this can be seen when we look at the percentage of high growth companies in Norfolk, compared to neighbouring counties.

Despite having more businesses with 10 or more employees than both Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire, the county lags behind on this point, with just 3.6pc of its total companies considered high growth in 2020, and 3.4pc in 2021.

Eastern Daily Press: Number of companies in the top 100 list by sectorNumber of companies in the top 100 list by sector (Image: Norfolk Limited)

Comparatively, 5.6pc of Cambridgeshire businesses were considered high growth in 2020, and 4.4pc in 2021.

Nationally, the figure was 4.4pc in 2020, and 3.8pc in 2021.

Mr Barnes added: “There’s no one reason for this lack of high growth companies.

“People often try to tout a lack of infrastructure, but it’s not quite that simple.

“There’s a lot of fantastic stuff happening in Norfolk, we just need to be better about trumpeting it to help attract investors.”

Employment and pay

Following a reduction in employee numbers last year - which has unsurprisingly been attributed to the effects of the pandemic - jobs have fallen for a second year in a row, down 2pc on the previous period.

The biggest cuts were in the services sector, which lost a total of 880 employees (down 6.5pc). 

Despite this, the sector remains the largest employer by a considerable margin, accounting for 46.6pc of employees across the companies measured.

Increased headcounts in the automotive distribution (up 4.9pc), transport, drink and agriculture (up 3.4pc), and retail and leisure (up 4.7pc) sectors helped to offset the overall downward trend.

UK-wide, the median pay has gone up by 41pc, while in Norfolk this ranged from 42pc to 50pc, depending on area. 

Great Yarmouth has seen the biggest increase, with income rising from an average of £1,302 per month in 2014 to £1,950 in 2023.

The sector with the highest median pay - and the biggest year-on-year increase - was the oil, gas, and energy sector.

The median yearly salary was £54,721, up 19.6pc on 2022.

Eastern Daily Press: Median annual salary in Norfolk by sector since 2014Median annual salary in Norfolk by sector since 2014 (Image: Newsquest)

In contrast, the lowest median salary was in the retail and leisure sector, up just 1.4pc on last year at £23,145 annually. 

Board diversity

Board diversity remains largely unchanged from last year, with 47 of the of the 100 companies analysed having no female directors - up from 44 in the 2022 report. 

Eastern Daily Press: Director gender by sectorDirector gender by sector (Image: Norfolk Limited)

Two sectors did increase the proportion of female directors year on year - automotive distribution and transport, and motor retail and services - making them the closest to gender parity across all the industries measured.

Eastern Daily Press: Director age by sectorDirector age by sector (Image: Norfolk Limited)

The oil, gas, and energy sector remained unchanged, with all 17 directors from last year remaining in place. 

The remaining four sectors, however, all reported a decrease in the percentage of female directors as last year. 

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