Profitability dips at UK’s firms

Marion Dakers
THE PROFITABILITY of British companies slipped slightly in the first three months of the year, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released yesterday.

The rate of return on private non-financial companies slipped 0.2 percentage points to 12.1 per cent in the first quarter – the lowest rate since mid-2010.

However, when North Sea oil and gas firms are excluded, gross trading profits grew 2.7 per cent.

Manufacturing firms remained at the bottom of the heap for profitability, with an unchanged return rate of 4.9 per cent, down from 5.4 per cent a year ago and 8.3 per cent in 2010. Services firms, meanwhile, showed a 0.1 percentage point uptick to 15.7 per cent in the quarter.

Ernst & Young figures for the ONS paint a mixed picture of corporate health: there was surge in profit warnings at the start of the quarter, at the fastest pace since early 2009, which tailed off rapidly by March.