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Mid-sized companies revealed as the engine of the economy as they outperform UK plc

30 January 2017

  • Mid-sized businesses score hat-trick of fastest growth in revenue, profits and jobs
  • New report reveals ‘economic engine’ companies created 780,000 new jobs last year
  • BDO urges government to put overlooked mid-sized businesses at the heart of its thinking as the UK approaches Brexit negotiations

The UK’s mid-sized businesses grew faster, generated larger profit growth and created more jobs in the last 12 months than the nation’s large and small companies, according to new figures published today.

Yet despite leading the economy, mid-sized businesses risk being overlooked as the UK prepares to leave the European Union, according to the ‘New Economy’ report published by accountancy and business advisory firm, BDO.

New research shows that mid-sized businesses created 780,000 new jobs last year, more than smaller businesses (135,000 new jobs) and FTSE 350 companies (320,000 new jobs) put together.

Financial results tell a similar story with mid-sized businesses increasing revenues and profits by 3.8% and 19% respectively compared to smaller businesses (turnover contracting by 7.6% and profits contracting by 26%) and FTSE 350 companies (turnover contracting by 12.6% and profits contracting by 24.5%).

These high-growth, entrepreneurial and ambitious businesses (which BDO calls the UK economic engine) punch well above their weight, accounting for only 30,000 companies (1.5% of all UK companies) but one third (£1.2tn) of all UK turnover.

Yet despite driving growth, profits and jobs, the UK economic engine falls into a policy and profile gap: too big to benefit from government initiatives aimed at small firms but too small to win the attention that FTSE firms command from the media and policy makers.

With so much uncertainty facing the UK, BDO is calling on the Government to prioritise the needs of mid-sized companies as one of three areas that policymakers must get right in order to create a ‘new economy’ that can thrive in the post-Brexit environment.  The three areas in the ‘New Economy’ report that BDO is calling upon the Government to focus on are:

  1. Encourage the UK’s fast-growth mid-sized businesses (the UK economic engine)
  2. Create sector and geographic powerhouses
  3. Ensure open and simple access to global markets and talent

The report’s proposals – which suggest twenty two policy recommendations - include a call for the Government to choose ‘simplicity over subsidy’ for the UK tax code, helping to simplify the tax system to support mid-sized companies; to cut through red-tape and commission ‘shovel-ready’ infrastructure projects that bring immediate economic impact; and battling hard to retain a variant of the financial services passport which is a core pillar of the UK’s economic success.

Paul Eagland, Managing Partner at BDO, said:

“High-growth mid-sized businesses played a leading role in the UK economic recovery after the global financial crisis.  With Brexit and more uncertainty looming, this is the time for the Government to engage with this part of our economy and draw on their natural energy, ambition and entrepreneurial spirit to create a ‘new economy’ and help the UK succeed post-Brexit.

“Despite being the economic engine of our economy, mid-sized businesses are often undervalued and overlooked. Part of the problem is that they include a wide spectrum of family-owned, private-equity-owned businesses and AIM-listed firms that do not have a single voice. They are also based in all areas of the UK.  By supporting mid-sized businesses growth, policymakers would also be helping to achieve the Government’s ambition of a regionally balanced economy that ‘works for all’.”

BDO’s New Economy report can be down loaded here –

Summary of key research


Turnover (£)

Turnover (2015)

Turnover (2011)

Turnover (increase on 2015)

Turnover (increase on 2011)

Economic engine






FTSE 350






Small businesses








Profit (£)

Profit (2015)

Profit (2011)

Profit (increase on 2015)

Profit (increase on 2011)

Economic engine






FTSE 350






Small businesses









Employees (2015)

Employees (2011)

Employees (increase 0n 2015)

Employees (increase 0n 2011)

Economic engine






FTSE 350






Small businesses






- Ends -

Notes to editors

Accountancy and business advisory firm BDO LLP provides integrated advice and solutions to help businesses navigate a changing world.

Our clients are Britain’s economic engine – ambitious, entrepreneurially-spirited and high growth businesses that fuel the economy. 

We share our clients’ ambitions and their entrepreneurial mind-set. We have the right combination of global reach, integrity and expertise to help them succeed. 


BDO LLP operates in 18 offices across the UK, employing 3,500 people offering tax, audit and assurance, and a range of advisory services. BDO LLP has revenues of £405m and is the UK member firm of the BDO International network.

BDO’s global network

The BDO global network provides business advisory services in 158 countries, with 68,000 people working out of 1,400 offices worldwide. It has revenues of $7.6bn. 

Methodological notes

BDO’s research is based on an analysis of the FAME database of company information and business intelligence.

Mid-sized companies were classed as being either (i) mid-market businesses (with a revenue of between £10m and £300m) (ii) AIM-listed businesses and (iii) private-equity owned businesses. 

Large businesses were classified as those on the FTSE 350.

And smaller businesses were classed as having a turnover of less than £10m.


Alexander Dickie or
Alisa Charkova
at Teneo Blue Rubicon on behalf of BDO LLP

Mob: 07876 287318
Tel:  0207 260 2700
Email: [email protected]