Top 100 Scottish Firms Generate £1 Billion in Profits

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The huge contribution made by Scotland’s leading family-owned firms to the country’s economy and employment levels has been underlined by a major new report.

The top 100 family-owned firms in Scotland make a vital contribution to the national economy, collectively generating £1.1 billion in profits and supporting over 103,000 jobs, according to a new research report ‘The Scottish Family Business Top 100’’ published by Family Business United Scotland (FBU Scotland).

Key facts from The Scottish Family Business Top 100:

  • Top 100 generate £1 billion profit before tax (PBT)
  • They collectively employ more than 100,000 people
  • Top 100 contribute 11% of Scotland’s onshore GDP
  • They created £16.6 billion turnover collectively
  • William Grant & Sons ranks No 1 by pre-tax profit
  • Arnold Clark ranks No 1 for turnover
  • City Facilities Management is the largest family business employer

The Top 100 spans major global enterprises and household names such as drinks giant William Grant & Sons which ranked number one in terms of pre-tax profit with profits of £177.2 million, as well as motor retailer Arnold Clark which topped the turnover league, generating £3.4 billion. Sir Willie Haughey’s Glasgow-headquartered City Facilities Management (formerly City Refrigeration), ranked as the largest family business employer in Scotland, supporting 12,047 jobs.

The report, sponsored by Carbon Financial Partners, underlines the diversity, vibrancy and wide geographic spread of Scotland’s family business sector. Lanarkshire enjoys the lion’s share of jobs, accounting for 43.5% of the total, but the report also features important family business employers in Edinburgh and West Lothian, Aberdeen and the North East and in Dumfriesshire. As Paul Andrews, Founder of Family Business United adds, “Family firms are really the engine room of the Scottish economy and they provide jobs, revenues and support communities throughout Scotland.”

Simon Hunt, CEO of William Grant & Sons said: “We’re delighted to be recognised in the Scottish Family Business Top 100 category alongside some of the some of the most respected companies in the Scottish market.”

The Top 20 Largest Family Firms in Scotland (ranked in terms of PBT)

  1. William Grant & Sons Holdings Limited
  2. Arnold Clark Automobiles Limited
  3. The Edinburgh Woollen Mill (Group) Limited
  4. Macdonald Hotels Limited
  5. Balmoral Group Holdings Limited
  6. James Jones & Sons Ltd
  7. C Thomson & Company Ltd
  8. Robertson Group (Holdings) Limited
  9. Farmfoods Limited
  • Murray Capital Group
  • Park’s of Hamilton (Holdings) Limited
  • GAP Holdings Limited
  • Saltire Energy Limited
  • City Refrigeration Holdings (UK) Limited
  • Adria Group Limited
  • Walkers Shortbread Limited
  • Community Wind Power (Holdings) Limited
  • James Walker (Leith) Limited
  • Craig Group Limited
  • Ian Macleod Distillers Limited

Motor retail was the dominant industry sector, accounting for eight of the top 100 firms and collectively generating £5.4 billion in turnover or more than 32% of the total turnover of the top 100, followed by food and drink in which 17 companies accounted for 21.47% of total turnover. The third most significant sector measured by turnover was property and construction, with 21 firms accounting for 12% of total turnover.

Eddie Hawthorne Chief Executive and Group Managing Director of Arnold Clark said: “Sir Arnold Clark began the company in 1954 with just one showroom. Although we’re now a UK business of over 11,000 employees, Sir Arnold’s family members still make a huge contribution to the everyday running of the business, and his strongly held business philosophy – of offering genuine value for money and customer service of the highest level – continues to define the company to this day.”

Company founder Sir Arnold Clark died in April and while some of the top 100 businesses are still led by original family founders, the report also includes companies such as Graham’s The Family Dairy now into its third generation of family ownership and cashmere firm Johnstons of Elgin, founded in 1797 and in continual family ownership for more than two centuries.

Mark Christie, Corporate Director of Carbon Financial, a financial planning, pensions and investment advice firm said: “We were delighted to sponsor this research which highlights the remarkable achievements of family businesses and makes a strong case for supporting family-owned firms in future so they can continue to invest and safeguard wealth and employment opportunities for the next generation.”

The findings of the report, which drew on Companies House data augmented with analysis by Craig Corporate and Queen Margaret University, will be discussed at The Scottish Family Business Conference 2017.

Tom Craig Chairman of Craig Corporate and Chair of Family Business United Scotland said: “Family businesses are the backbone of the Scottish economy yet don’t get the recognition they deserve as innovators and investors. This research quantifies their very significant contribution both in financial terms and in supporting vital jobs and training. Scotland’s onshore GDP is £149 billion – the top 100 family businesses account for an impressive 11% of that.”

Craig added that City Facilities Management is an example of a successful family business that has prospered from investing in people and strategic diversification into new services and geographies. It offers a full spectrum of services to multinationals in the UK, United States, Southeast Asia and has just launched of a new European venture.

Lord Haughey, Chairman, City Facilities Management said: “We’ve been fortunate our company has continued to grow and create value and employment and we’re very proud of our people who are a pivotal part of our success. It’s the calibre of our people, the training and management and investment we make in them that attracts clients…Our commitment to apprenticeships is important too. Being a private family business allows you to act faster and to take decisions and solve problems very very quickly.”

Balmoral Group, founded by Jim Milne CBE, Scotland’s Entrepreneur of the Year, was the highest ranked Aberdeen company and fifth overall by pre-tax profits. Balmoral is a diverse group spanning isubsea buoyancy, flotation, insulation, elastomer and renewable energy products, property development, civil/environmental engineering liquid storage and treatment solutions.

Jim Milne CBE, chairman and managing director, Balmoral Group Holdings Ltd said: “We are proud of our status as a family business and take our place amongst the most respected engineering companies in the world. In our 37 years’ of operation we have had tough times as well as good and always bounced back. In the process we have picked up numerous business awards including three Queen’s Awards for International Achievement which I am immensely proud of.”

Membership organisation FBU Scotland was formed to give family businesses a more powerful voice as well as a forum for education and knowledge exchange and access too valuable insight and resources on challenges such as governance, succession planning and investment. 

FBU Scotland founder Paul Andrews added: “Family Business United Scotland champions family businesses whatever their size, sector or age. Our research dispels many myths about family businesses being small or lacking in ambition. The top 100 have demonstrated impressive abilities to respond to market forces and to innovate and evolve in order to remain current, relevant and profitable.”

Andrews encouraged family firms to attend the upcoming Scottish Family Business Conference to hear speakers including Robert Graham, Managing Director of Graham’s The Family Dairy who said, “It’s great to see the impact family businesses have made on the Scottish economy. Innovation is at the heart of what we do, which has led to more than half of Scotland’s population buying Graham’s products, allowing us to grow, support the Scottish economy and further employment throughout the years.”

Apex Hotels, a family-owned hotel group established in Edinburgh by Norman Springford, and 22 in the Top 100 by pre-tax profit has just opened its tenth hotel as part of its UK-wide growth strategy. Angela Vickers, CEO of Apex Hotels, said: “Strong family businesses form the heart of Scotland’s business community – creating opportunities on a local, regional and national scale – and it’s wonderful to see so many thriving…Hotels are a home from home, so the very foundation of our business is around family, especially our ‘warmer welcome’ ethos.“

Scottish family firms are thriving and making a significant difference to the lives of many people throughout Scotland. The findings of this report are crucial in helping to demonstrate the significant impact that family firms have across Scotland and to help show that Scottish family firms are great, make a big difference and are a real force for good across the country.

To order your PDF copy of The Scottish Family Business Top 100 click here.