Northern Ireland’s leading companies bucking the economic trends.

Northern Ireland’s leading companies have bucked the economic trends to record an overall increase in sales in the last year, Ulster Business magazine figures have indicated.

According to the results, the combined turnover of the region’s leading 100 businesses rose from £17.6 billion to £19.8 billion.

Poultry processor Moy Park topped the survey, for the first time after registering an 18% rise in turnover to £921 million.

Profitability rose to £786 million but the average profit margin for the listed companies remained at the 4% recorded last year.

Of the 100, 18 companies made a pre-tax loss. The figures in the magazine’s 2012 survey are based on latest company accounts filed at Companies House, with most relating to the 2010/11 financial year.

The magazine said the 12% increase in growth was partly attributed to the reinstatement to the list of Quinn Manufacturing, the continuing businesses of the former Quinn Group, as no comparable sales figures existed last year.

But excluding Quinn Manufacturing, Ulster Business said overall turnover for the other companies still increased by 8% on a like-for-like basis.

A number of big name companies posted significantly higher turnovers than last year – including FG Wilson with 18%, Henderson Group with 9%, Northern Ireland Water with 14% and United Dairy Farmers with 8%.

Symon Ross, editor of Ulster Business, said: “The figures on which the top 100 list is based provide some cheer, but nobody is likely to get carried away given the tough economic realities still facing most sectors.”