Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

University Challenge to Help Firms Grow

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

University Challenge to Help Firms Grow

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Braidford

Paul Braidford, St Chad''s College and Professor Ian Stone, Durham Business School THE PAST few years have been undeniably difficult for business, and the outlook for the immediate future remains highly uncertain - not just in the North East, but around the globe. However, although these remain troubled times, there are at least some positive business signs, as shown by this year's Fastest 50.

While the initial search through Companies House records for eligible businesses identified fewer contenders than usual, it was an encouragingly higher number than the shortlist we drew up last year.

But let's not exaggerate. As we looked through the records, we found that many companies which have weathered the downturn have only done so at the expense of a decline in their sales, and several well-known local names which would have been on the list have been bought by foreign companies and are no longer eligible.

And while there are some newer businesses in this year's list, two-thirds were established a decade ago or earlier. Whether new businesses will emerge strongly from the downturn to claim a place in the list next year and subsequently remains to be seen.

Nonetheless, the Fastest 50 list once again emphasises the North East's traditional strengths and illustrates the ongoing adaptation of these strengths to the challenges of an increasingly globalised trade environment. It also reveals the new trends which are emerging in the region. There are companies which have found their niche as high quality specialist providers in supply chains: manufacturers of components, the service and repair of equipment, haulage, medical legal services, construction contractors. …

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