The gap between large companies here and their smaller counterparts continued to widen last year with the big guns pulling ahead with solid growth figures.
Turnover and profits tumbled at top small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) while Singapore's largest companies recorded double-digit increases that took their combined profits to a record high, according to DP Information Group (DP Info) and consultants EY.
This was unveiled on Thursday at the launch of the Singapore 1000 (S1000) and Singapore SME 1000 (SME 1000) rankings.
The firms released annual league tables yesterday - one ranking 1,000 largest firms by revenue and one listing the top 1,000 SMEs with revenue of less than $100 million for the period June 1, 2016, to May 31, 2017.
The 1,000 top firms recorded a 10.5 per cent jump in combined profits to $182.8 billion from a year earlier, but turnover ticked up only 1.1 per cent to $2.79 trillion.
This indicates that the rise in profits is due to improved margins rather than higher sales volumes.
"The companies were more efficient and productive in their operations or were disciplined enough to reduce costs," said Mr James Gothard, general manager at Credit Services and Strategy SEA at Experian, the parent of DP Info.
We expect South-east Asia to grow in prominence for SMEs as Singapore uses its position as Asean chair to strengthen economic ties and to boost regional business opportunities.
MR JAMES GOTHARD, general manager at Credit Services and Strategy SEA at Experian.
But firms in the SME 1000 ranking saw turnover and profits fall. Combined turnover for these smaller companies fell 11.8 per cent to $26.7 billion while profits declined 17.1 per cent from $3.5 billion to $2.9 billion.
Mr Gothard noted that SMEs faced challenges over the ranking period: "Singapore had weaker GDP growth and global trade was slow with China having had one of the slowest growth periods in 25 years at that point.
"SMEs also invested in technology and productivity improvements in response to tighter manpower policies at the same time."
DP Info and EY also released the Singapore International 100 ranking for the top firms based on overseas revenue, and the Singapore International Top 50 SMEs ranking.
The total overseas revenue of the top 100 firms here that went international fell 11 per cent to $165.4 billion. China continued to be the largest source market for Singapore's largest corporations doing business overseas, accounting for 42.9 per cent of offshore revenue.
The total overseas revenue of the top 50 internationalised SMEs increased 3.3 per cent to $1.6 billion.
South-east Asia was the most important market for the 50 SMEs ranked, with 41.8 per cent of their revenue coming from the Asean region - more than three times the revenue generated in China.
"We expect South-east Asia to grow in prominence for SMEs as Singapore uses its position as Asean chair to strengthen economic ties and to boost regional business opportunities," said Mr Gothard.
A gala dinner to celebrate the award winners is on Friday at The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore.
One SME winner is Equvo, a lease financing and equipment advisory services firm.
Chief executive Melvin Low said that the firm focuses on its "core competency, great customer and bank relationships, executing well globally, and working as a team".
His advice for other SMEs: "Watch your burn rate (or your operating costs), stay relevant to your customers and ahead of your competitors, admit your mistakes and make the necessary changes in your business."