The Engine Room Of The UK Economy
21st September 2017 Paul Andrews
Family firms are the bedrock of communities throughout the UK and the real engine room of the UK economy.
The UK’s family businesses come in all sizes, from all sectors and from all over the country. Many of these firms have been in existence for hundreds of years, passing from generation to generation, with their longevity the result of good governance, innovative family ownership and a focus on the long term that has resulted in them becoming the bedrock of communities across the UK. Others may be younger in age, but share similar values and are building forward-looking family firms of the future.
Studies in the past decade have shown that around 4 million firms are family controlled and that family businesses in the UK account for around 25% of UK GDP, over 12 million jobs and contribute significantly to tax revenues.
It is also recognised that the greatest part of Britain’s wealth is held within family businesses and that the family business sector is therefore a force to be reckoned with. Research undertaken by Family Business United (‘FBU’) identified that £49 billion of revenue alone was generated by the 20 largest family firms in the UK. In Scotland, separate research has shown that the top 100 family firms in Scotland contribute £16.6 billion turnover and collectively employ 103,000 people.
Family firms across the UK today are a far cry from the small lifestyle businesses that are often portrayed in the media – they are big employers, create wealth for their employees (many of whom have had generations of the same family working in the business) and invest significantly in the communities in which they operate.
The contribution made by the family business sector in the UK is significant and deserves to be recognised. National Family Business Day 2017 is a nationwide campaign to put the family business sector on the map, organised by FBU, the award-winning magazine and resource centre for the global family business community that was founded by Paul Andrews.
Family firms have to deal with specific issues associated with their family ownership and it is the relationship dynamics that make them special, and of course, can create unique tensions that are not found in their non-family counterparts.
Family businesses that recognise these challenges, develop good governance procedures and focus on the sustainability of the business for the long term, innovating as necessary to keep the business relevant, have the greatest chances of remaining for generations to come. Furthermore, these businesses embrace the ‘familiness’ of the business and can actually use it to create a competitive advantage for the business too.
Successful family firms focus on the business and take a long term view, and with a significant number of family business owners looking to retire in the next decade, succession planning and the development of the next generation of family business leaders remains a key item on the family business agenda.
National Family Business Day 2017 is a chance to share best practice, identify the resources available and to provide assistance to family businesses across the UK on the next stage of their journey, as well as championing the cause and recognising the contribution that these businesses make.
Family firms are the backbone of the UK economy and we hope they remain so for generations to come.