Revenue of top 1,000 Singapore firms crosses $3 trillion

One of the strong performers in recent years has been Singapore's information and communications sector, according to DP Info. Infocomm companies in the top 1,000 had a total revenue of $90.6 billion this year, up from $31.9 billion in 2007.
One of the strong performers in recent years has been Singapore's information and communications sector, according to DP Info. Infocomm companies in the top 1,000 had a total revenue of $90.6 billion this year, up from $31.9 billion in 2007. PHOTO: REUTERS

Strong showing by commerce and wholesale sector is main driver behind the higher sales

Defying all the doom and gloom, Singapore's private sector has just hit a striking new milestone.

The country's top 1,000 companies now have combined annual revenues surpassing $3 trillion.

DP Information Group, which compiles an annual ranking of Singapore's biggest 1,000 firms and top 1,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), said this comes just three years after Singapore's corporate powerhouses collectively made $2 trillion in revenues.

The main driver of the increased revenue was the strong performance of the commerce and wholesale sector, which in the past three years has added $413 billion in sales to the combined revenue pool of the top 1,000 firms.

The strong performance "shows the vital role played by external trade in Singapore's economic development and progress, with the intensity of trade within Asean and the Asia-Pacific continuing to dominate", said DP Info chief operating officer Lincoln Teo.

"We are also seeing the benefits of Singapore's network of 20 free trade agreements which have opened up opportunities for Singapore-based firms by eliminating tariffs and making it easier to move goods across international borders."

Singapore's role in world trade also helped more companies in the transport and storage sector to make it into the rankings.

Transport and storage companies recorded combined sales of $222.1 billion this year, or 7.4 per cent of the total revenue posted by the top 1,000 firms. In 2013, the sector contributed 6.5 per cent of the total revenue of the top 1,000.

Another strong performer in recent years has been Singapore's information and communications sector, DP Info said. Infocomm companies in the top 1,000 had combined revenue of $90.6 billion this year, up from $31.9 billion in 2007.

The manufacturing sector has gradually taken a back seat. There were 146 manufacturing firms in the rankings this year, down from 175 in 2013 and 233 in 2007. The sector's contribution to revenue of the top 1,000, as a percentage of the total, has halved since 2007.

Singapore's SMEs have also seen an increase in their combined revenue this year, rising 2.9 per cent to $29.2 billion.

However, compared with last year, the combined profits of SMEs have declined by 1.6 per cent to $3.3 billion and the number of loss-making SMEs increased from 130 in 2015 to 144 this year.

SMEs are struggling with the high cost of doing business, especially wages and rents. They also face growing competition from across the region, Mr Teo added.

Still, there are those that have managed to thrive despite the tough business climate. One is biodiesel firm Lipico Bioenergy, which has been named one of the most promising SMEs.

"We are in the business at the right time, tapping on the growing interest in renewable energy and oleochemicals," said director Wong Yew Choo. "But after next year, we expect growth to slow because the market will be saturated."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 26, 2016, with the headline 'Revenue of top 1,000 firms crosses $3 trillion'. Print Edition | Subscribe