IT was a double win for Wearside car maker Nissan yesterday after it once again took top place in The Journal’s annual list of the North East’s biggest companies.
With turnover of £4.3bn – a billion up on last year’s number – the Sunderland firm took pride of place for the fourth time since 2000 – when its winning revenues were just £1.8bn.
This year, in the face of ongoing economic uncertainty, there were 27 new entries to the Top 200 list and – in an indication of the rude health of most of the constituents of the list – combined turnover was £8bn higher than in 2008.
As last year, Nissan romped home ahead of public transport giants DB Arriva and Go-Ahead Group, based in Sunderland and Newcastle respectively.
The North East Top 200 for 2012, which is compiled by Newcastle University Business School and verified by PwC, held its 35th annual awards ceremony at the Copthorne Hotel, Newcastle.
Only once since 1992 has Nissan not filled a top three place in the list.
Now Nissan Sunderland, Europe’s most productive motor manufacturer, is about to set the pace once again for 2013, with three new models planned, including the electric Leaf, and a battery manufacturing plant. As well as the coveted top 200 title, Nissan was also named number one in the top five inbound companies list.
After accepting two awards on behalf of the company, Nissan’s UK finance director John Butcher, commended his team for another successful year.
He said: “I think it’s fantastic to have this level of recognition, not just for the management team but for the whole workforce. Only collectively as a team have we achieved what we have achieved here on Wearside.
“We’ve invested quite a lot in new technology, especially in our new battery plant and we’ve placed a lot of emphasis on low-carbon vehicles and their future in the commercial market.
“We’re very excited looking ahead to next year with the launch of our new models and we only hope that the situation in the eurozone, where we export a lot of our cars to, recovers soon.”
New to the list, and winner of the highest new entry award, was Virgin Money following its purchase of Northern Rock, the bank that topped the list for three years from 2005 to 2007, before its collapse and subsequent rescue.
Virgin Money’s head of communications, Brian Giles, said: “We are delighted to receive this award given this is the first year that Virgin Money has been operational in the North East. It’s great early recognition for a fledgling firm.”
This year’s highest climber was Haltwhistle-based Kilfrost.
The highest placed business fuelled with private equity was R&R Ice Cream while the biggest privately owned firm was Benfield Motors.