New Top 500 businesses index ‘could aid regional recovery’

The top 500 businesses in the East Midlands has been compiled for the first time by a team of academics across the region.

Led by Professor David Rae of De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)’s Leicester Castle Business School, the inaugural report includes companies from a range of sectors including manufacturing, retail, business services, construction, food and leisure.

And Professor Rae hopes it can provide baseline data to help the region bounce back from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which is leading to job losses and restructuring in major companies in the area.

He said: “As we look at the recovery from COVID19, we know businesses are facing many challenges. Compiling this index shows the strength of the East Midlands business economy as a place which offers quality jobs, and recognises and develops both talent and innovation.

“These businesses are at the heart of the East Midlands economy and are high on the list of those most likely to drive growth and create jobs in the future. Their prosperity affects not only their workforces, supply chains and the communities around them, but ultimately everyone in the region.”

Professor Rae conceived the idea after seeing the separate Top 200 Businesses lists, which separately analysed companies in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. It brings these together for the first time.

The Top 500 has been counted down daily by the regional Business Live website, which is part of Reach Plc, the publisher of the Leicester Mercury, Nottingham Post and Derby Telegraph.

The region’s top 10 is published is published alongside a series of features and a report on the major sectors, insights and implications for the future to follow during June.

Professor Rae said: “The East Midlands has lacked a single organisation which brings together the economic and business intelligence for the region. This puts the East Midlands at a disadvantage with city-regional unified authorities, such as the West Midlands, which are able to integrate shared intelligence much more effectively. This index is one contribution to address that”

Work on the Top 500 began late last year, when business disruption from Brexit was envisaged, but coronavirus was unheard of.

Academics from DMU, Nottingham Trent University and the University of Derby were able to crunch the numbers using reports filed with Companies House. The list excludes public sector organisations and companies with operations in the East Midlands that are subsidiaries or who have their registered offices elsewhere.

Information gathered for the index includes annual turnover and the number of employees.  The 500 companies in the index have a combined turnover of just under £93billion and employ almost 455,000 people.

This list allows us to think about the shape of the business community in the region, its strengths and weaknesses and start conversations about more close working and building an identity for the region.

The EM Top 500 team is a partnership which includes researchers from De Montfort University, Leicester (Professor David Rae, Dr Rachel English, and doctoral researchers Deji Olagboye and Ngozi Eneh Ojo); University of Derby (Alexandra Charles, Professor Marc Cowling); Nottingham Trent University (Dr Will Rossiter) working with Reach Media and East Midlands Chamber.