Gold Coast Top Companies 2018

THE old guard is making way for the new among the Gold Coast's top companies in what could be described as the most dynamic transformation of the city's corporate scene in a decade.

There have been some big-name departures and some innovative debutants in this list, revealing that there's more to the Gold Coast business than tourism, property and board shorts.

It shows the Gold Coast is home to iconic brands and fast-growing start-ups that are flourishing in Australia's small business capital.

The pace of change was evident in the 2018 Gold Coast Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards which revealed a new wave of business owners building iconic brands of the future. This year's Gold Coast Top Companies list features a number of previous award winners who have kicked on to create some of the city's biggest companies.

While our Top 50 companies may not all be born and bred on the Gold Coast, they all are headquartered in the city. Business News Australia has accessed various resources, including data compiled by industry analyst Illion (formerly Dun and Bradstreet), to rank them according to annual revenue.

Among the exits from this year's list is surfwear icon Billabong, which once held the top spot for many years.

While Billabong will always remain an iconic Gold Coast brand with key operations located in the city, the company's headquarters are now in the US following a takeover by American giant Boardriders Inc earlier this year.

Mantra Group, the Gold Coast-born accommodation giant, is also absent from this year's list following its takeover by French hotels group Accor.

Amid the highs there have been lows with the past year proving difficult for some of the Gold Coast's top companies.

Online surf and action-wear retailer SurfStitch has been bumped off the list after falling into administration. It is now in the hands of New Zealand online group EziBuy.

Despite the changes at the top, Nick Robinson, Illion's director of data, analytics and insight, says the Gold Coast remains home to iconic Australian brand names and more recent fast-growing start-ups.

"The Top 50 list includes a diverse range of sectors and sizes, with a significant amount of $100 million-plus businesses," Robinson says.

"The broad range of industries that have decided to call Gold Coast home is a good sign of the region's vibrant business community."

"Southport appeared to be the main hub for business headquarters, closely followed by Surfers Paradise and Robina."
Gold Coast Top Companies 2018
Another constant is the diversity of business enterprises that have made the grade and genuinely redefined the city's corporate landscape.

According to Bond University's head of entrepreneurship Dr Baden U'Ren, the changes in this year's list is evidence that the Gold Coast is making gains in retaining and attracting talent.

"The Gold Coast is increasingly seen as a desirable location to base a business," says U'Ren.

"The city's decision to lay fibre along the light rail corridor provides the digital connectivity to match that provided physically by the upgraded Gold Coast Airport and proximity to Brisbane, and we see a different breed of company choosing to call the Gold Coast home.

"With the war for talent a given in today's business environment, the natural beauty and emerging cultural scene see progressive organisations choosing to use location as a hiring tool.

"It also means locally developed companies are choosing to stay rather than chasing talent in the traditional commercial centres of Sydney and Melbourne."

The Gold Coast's cornerstone industries have always been property and tourism, while education is fast becoming the third major leg for the local economy.

While all three are represented in this year's list, the Gold Coast's top 50 companies reveal a more diverse picture.

The dominant group in this list is the retail and services sector, followed by property and construction. However, manufacturing comes a close third, led by the marine industry, engineering firms and specialist food producers.

Tourism comes in at fourth spot, confirming that the sands have shifted on how to view a typical Gold Coast business.

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate says economic momentum in the aftermath of the Commonwealth Games has primed the Gold Coast to expand its business base.

"There is about $30 billion in investment in the pipeline for our city of the next decade and we will continue to see investment in infrastructure creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs, business owners and investors," he says.

"I have always said that when the Gold Coast's economy fires, Queensland hums and that's what we are seeing right now with these top Gold Coast companies absolutely going for gold.

"It's an exciting time to do business on the Gold Coast and these top companies reflect the successful and upwards trend of confidence and investment in our city."

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