Sustainability in the spotlight as Northamptonshire businesses look for growth

Businesses in Northamptonshire are set to reveal that sustainability will be central to achieving long-term growth and profitability, according to financial and business advisers Grant Thornton. Its latest annual survey of the top 100 businesses in the county, known as Northamptonshire Limited, which offers an in-depth health check of the local economy and analyses how businesses are performing, is due to be launched in October.

This year Grant Thornton has partnered with the University of Northampton on the study which will include a focus on the important role businesses play in driving the sustainability agenda, from reducing their environmental impact to promoting social mobility.

A Tracker Insights report published earlier this year by Business in the Community, found that 64% of the participating UK Forerunner companies (Ref 1) set objectives, targets and KPIs for their carbon reduction strategy and that rises to 92% for sectors such as Utilities, Energy and Transport.

Mike Hughes, director at Grant Thornton who is leading Northamptonshire Limited 2019 said: “Last year’s Limited report revealed that despite the uncertainty over Brexit, the county’s top businesses continued to enjoy significant increases in turnover, profitability and employment. Of course, a lot has changed in terms of Brexit over the past 12 months and there are concerns about a slowing global economy.

“Yet, despite these key challenges, sustainability is, quite rightly, a high priority for the majority of Northamptonshire businesses. Customers, employees and stakeholders are demanding strong credentials in this area, and those businesses that demonstrate their commitment to progressing the environmental and social agenda will retain a competitive advantage.”

This is a view underpinned by the Institute of Directors which says that reducing carbon footprint is a growing priority for consumers and businesses alike, and that a green transport strategy is an essential part of any business’ green credentials. It can also lead to a reduction in costs and improve the health and morale of the workforce.

Grant Thornton’s focus on sustainability has seen its UK offices collectively reduce electricity emissions by 94%, cut paper consumption by 14%, decrease air travel emissions by 17% and increase recycling by 4% over the past 12 months.

Mike added: “From reducing the size and scale of supply chains to limiting day-to-day waste, sustainability is crucial for companies to successfully grow and thrive in an increasingly competitive world. It’s not only good for society as a whole, but makes good business sense as it can help lower running costs and motivate the growing number of employees who want to work for a firm with a social conscience.”

Adrian Pryce, Senior Lecturer & MBA Programme Leader at the University of Northamptonshire and Deputy Lieutenant of Northamptonshire said: “ “With business under pressure from government and consumers alike to think beyond profit as its sole purpose, and make a positive contribution to society, there is a growing need for business to create ‘social value’ – working with the public, private and not-for-profit sectors for community benefit. If business rises to the challenge, there is great potential for a ‘collective impact’ that addresses not only environmental issues but also social problems, improving the lives of the local community from which business draws both its customers and employees. Overwhelming? Too costly? Or enlightened self-interest? It’s no longer something which can just be ignored – the time to act is now.”


The Northamptonshire Limited 2019 report will be unveiled at a breakfast briefing, hosted by Grant Thornton, on Thursday 10 October at Northampton Saints. For further information, please contact Hannah While: Hannah.R.While@uk.gt.com.