£2bn turnover hit by Sheffield City Region’s top tech firms

Dr Andrew Johnston,  lecturer and leader of international business and economics at Sheffield Hallam University.
Dr Andrew Johnston, lecturer and leader of international business and economics at Sheffield Hallam University.

The top 25 tech companies in Sheffield City Region employ more than 12,000 people and bring in almost £2billion a year, new figures show.

Top of the table, with the biggest income, is Insight Direct based in Sheffield. The firm, which sells hardware, software and IT services has £424m turnover and 802 employees.

It started out in a garage in Worksop in 1988 and was snapped up by US firm Insight Direct in 2000.

Research by Dr Andrew Johnston of Sheffield Hallam University shows Tunstall Healthcare Group, based in Doncaster, is the biggest employer, with 2,968 staff.

Plusnet is the best known, it is third biggest with £227m turnover and 1,043 employees.

The top 25 have a turnover of £1,978,249 and employ 12,657 according to their most recent accounts.

In total, there are 5,495 tech firms in the region, up 11 per cent on the year previous, a rate of growth which outstrips the UK average of 10.26 per cent, the figures show.

The picture is one of an established tech sector making a “significant” contribution to the economy, Dr Johnston says.

Only this week, Sheffield games company Sumo Digital was snapped up by a private investment company vowing to help it expand globally. It is the 21st largest tech firm in the region with £21m turnover.

Dr Johnston, principal lecturer in international business and economics, said tech jobs tended to be highly skilled and better paid, while companies in the sector operated in a global market, bringing income into the region.

He added: “Sheffield City Region has a significant tech sector which is growing at a rate that outstrips the national average.

“In the main they will be skilled jobs with a lot of graduate-level positions which help retain graduates from our two universities.

“We need a base of large, well-established employers to offer initial positions in the tech industries. Recruits will hopefully go on to found spin-out companies.

“Tech businesses tend to offer bespoke products which require a lot of face-to-face interaction to get the design right so good transport links are key.”

Some 36 per cent of tech firms are involved in programming consultancy, web design, data processing and software publishing. Two fifths are in hi-tech engineering, testing and R&D.

The smallest of the top 25 is LX Engineering (North) of Sheffield with £13m turnover and 35 employees.