The total sales revenue of the top 500 companies in Zhejiang was 3.91 trillion yuan ($640 billion) in 2012, up 20 percent year-on-year, despite the worsening economy, according to the annual list of the top 500 firms in the province released on Tuesday by regional magazine Zheshang.
Zhejiang Materials Industry Group - a State-owned logistics company - topped the ranking with a sales revenue of more than 196 billion yuan, followed by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, one of the top 10 automakers in China, and Zhejiang Wanxiang Group, a major auto parts company.
The number of companies with sales revenue above 10 billion yuan was more than 100 for the first time in 2012, while the average annual increase rate of the 10 companies with more than 50 billion yuan in sales revenue was 12 percent. The average annual growth of the 44 companies with more than 20 billion yuan in sales revenue was 28 percent.
A sub-list of 345 companies of the top 500 showed that the overall performance in terms of net profit growth was worse than in the previous year.
"As many Zhejiang companies are export-oriented manufacturers and rely on orders from the United States and Europe, they had lower profits as a result of fewer orders," said Zhou Dewen, chairman of the Wenzhou SME Development Association.
The overall performance of large-scale Zhejiang companies, the majority of which are private companies, is getting stronger with higher sales revenue over the long term. But the weaker economy in 2012 led companies to upgrade their structure to move forward, said Yang Yiqing, the chairman of the Zhejiang Merchants' Research Association.
Yang added that this year would be tough for most small and medium-sized enterprises in the province due to lower overseas orders and weaker profits.
Consumer goods and mechanical and electrical equipment are still the two major industries in Zhejiang, with 88 companies that make consumer goods and 81 mechanical and electrical equipment manufacturers on the list.
"Apart from our traditional business of making lead-acid and lithium batteries, the new-energy sector served as a main driver of our sales revenue. One reason for the booming new-energy business is that we were always devoted to innovation," said Liu Jianming, the director of the public relations department at China Chilwee Group, a leading battery maker in Huzhou, Zhejiang.
The company ranked 23rd on the list, up from 51st in the previous year. Its sales revenue reached 34.5 billion yuan last year, up 158 percent year-on-year.
Meanwhile, the overall growth rate of the 500 companies on the list was lower, with 107 companies registering negative growth in terms of sales revenue, over twice the amount for the previous year.
The Huafeng Group - one of the country's major polyurethane makers, based in Wenzhou - ranked 76th on the list, dropping six spots from the previous year.
"Although the sales revenue of the group kept growing, the lower profits made from the weaker overseas market squeezed us severely, along with the increasing costs for raw materials and labor in 2012," said Zou Zongjun, the director of the company's public relations department.
Zou added that some sub companies in the group saw negative profit growth in the past two years.