Celebrating Scotland’s Finest Family Firms

Scotland's most profitable family-owned companies have been revealed in a major new report that highlights the impact of family businesses on the economy

By Diliff - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12655844

Family Business United (FBU) Scotland is the leading organisation championing the family business sector in Scotland with over 50 family business members, including Walkers Shortbread, Johnston’s of Elgin, Macsween of Edinburgh, Graham’s Dairies, Scottish Leather Group and Zonal UK.

Latest research by FBU Scotland shows that the top 100 family firms in Scotland collectively generate a combined turnover of £17.2 billion (£1.2 billion profits) and support more than 111,000 jobs.

From The 2018 Scottish Family Business Top 100, courtesy of FBU

As Paul Andrews, founder of Family Business United, said, “Family firms are the engine room of the Scottish economy. They provide jobs and revenues and support communities throughout Scotland. This report clearly quantifies the importance and diversity of a sector that deserves more support to ensure that these businesses continue for generations to come. Their contribution in terms of wealth, incomes and job creation can easily be quantified but, in addition to that, the support that these businesses provide to the communities in which they operate should not be underestimated either.”

All the businesses listed in the Top 100 generate a turnover in excess of £25 million, which makes them significant businesses. With Arnold Clark reporting turnover of £3.7 billion, the scale of some of these firms can be quantified instantly.

The Top 10 Family Firms in Scotland 

(Based on businesses with a turnover in excess of £25 million per their last set of filed accounts at Companies House, ranked in terms of profit before tax.)

  1. William Grant & Sons Holdings Limited
  2. Arnold Clark Automobiles
  3. The Edinburgh Woollen Mill
  4. C. Thomson & Company Limited
  5. James Jones & Sons Limited
  6. Lunar Fishing Company
  7. Park’s of Hamilton
  8. Balmoral Group
  9. J Mcleod (Contractors) Limited
  10. GAP Holdings Limited
From The 2018 Scottish Family Business Top 100, courtesy of FBU

Scotland’s most profitable family firm is William Grant & Sons, a whisky distiller founded back in 1887. In its last financial year, it generated a pre-tax profit of £260 million and turnover in excess of £1 billion and employed 2,100 staff.

Scotland’s largest family business by turnover and second most profitable was Arnold Clark, the motor retailer. The business was founded in 1954 by the late Sir Arnold Clark. Turnover in the latest filed accounts was £3.7 billion, with a profit before tax of £125 million and nearly 11,000 people employed.

The Top 100 contains an exciting mix of businesses, some of which have been around for generations, like Walkers Shortbread, Johnstons of Elgin and James Donaldson & Sons. Other, newer businesses such as the Proctor Group and Vets Now Limited are also generating incredible results and making their way into the Top 100 for the first time.

The mix of businesses is also of interest as it combines traditional industries such as timber and whisky with newer sectors involving technology, pharmaceuticals and renewable energies.

Geographically, the Top 100 family firms are having an impact on regional and rural economies across Scotland. As Paul adds, “Whilst, as we would expect, there are significant clusters of family firms around the major cities, it is great to see the diversity of geographical spread. 43 per cent of all those employed in the Top 100 are in Lanarkshire, with Glasgow being the main hub and employing significantly more people than Edinburgh in family firms, but over 11,000 people are employed in family firms based in Dumfriesshire, 11,000 in Stirlingshire and 5,000 in Aberdeenshire.”

From The 2018 Scottish Family Business Top 100, courtesy of FBU

Mark Christie, partner at Carbon Financial who sponsored the report, understands the essence that underlies the firms included. As he explains:

“Family businesses are incredibly full of pride, passion and integrity and have a story to tell. Each and every family firm in Scotland has a narrative that helps define who they are. In many cases, they take a long-term view, investing for the future and committing to their business in the communities in which they operate. Their contribution needs to be more widely appreciated, understood and supported.”

The results in the second report of the Top 100 family firms in Scotland clearly demonstrate the contribution made by family firms and the need for policymakers and decision-makers to ensure that sufficient effort is directed towards supporting firms that are integral to the success of the economy.

As Andrews concludes, “The findings of the 2018 Top 100 Scottish Family Firms picture a strong sector that is continuing to perform well despite the prevailing uncertainties in the marketplace. Family businesses are a significant sector in terms of employment and wealth creation and one that deserves to be recognised for the contribution it makes to the Scottish economy and beyond.”

To read the full report, click here.