MON 23RD APR 2018


Bringing the family business community together

Family Firms Make A Big Difference

19th August 2014 Paul Andrews

Latest figures show family firms contribute significantly to the UK economy.

There is often a lack of recognition and respect for the successful contribution that family businesses have made to the UK economy over the years but the latest figures compiled by Family Business United clearly shows a different story.

With over 3 million privately held family firms in the UK, their contribution should not be underestimated.  There is growing optimism across the UK and based on the sales figures of the top 20 UK family-owned businesses below, it is easy to see why.  

Total sales for the top 20 totalled £49.2 billion with an average sales value of £2.6 billion.

Paul Andrews, Founder and Managing Director of Family Business United, the UKs leading online magazine and resource centre for family businesses said: “The past few years have been difficult trading environments but these family firms have clearly found a path to success.  With family firms contributing almost one third of UK GDP, these firms lead the way.  Not only do they generate significant sales, they are also major employers and supporters of the communities in which they operate.”

“The mix of sectors in which these family firms operate is also interesting.  Far from being totally dominated by one sector it is great to see industries from construction to retail, food distribution to footwear and recycling to engineering all being represented at a top level by these family owned businesses.”

Top of the list in terms of sales is the Swire Group which was founded in Liverpool in 1816 and was one of the firms at the core of the expansion of Britain globally in the nineteenth century.  

The privately owned parent company is John Swire & Sons Limited and their most well–known operating company is Cathay Pacific. The group is also active in other sectors as diverse as beverages, marine services, property and industrial developments.

The Top 20 Family Businesses in the UK

  1. Swire                       
    Conglomerate (Swire family) - £6,253 million* sales (year ended December 2013)

  2. Stemcor
    Steel (Oppnheimer family) - £5,112 million sales (year ended December 2012)

  3. Laing O'Rourke
    Construction and engineering (O'Rourke family) - £3,228 million sales (year ended March 2013)

  4. European Metal Recycling
    Metal recycling (Sheppard family) - £3,184 million* sales (year ended December 2012)

  5. Arnold Clark Automobiles
    Car dealerships (Clark family) - £2,919 million sales (year ended December 2013)

  6. 2 Sisters Food Group
    Food production (Boparan family) - £2,885 million sales (year ended July 2013)

  7. Arcadia 
    Fashion retail (Green family) - £2,736 million sales (year ended August 2013)

  8. JCB
    Construction and engineering (Bamford family) - £2,680 million* sales (year ended December 2013)

  9. Bestway Group
    Cash & carry (Pervez family) - £2,518 million* sales (year ended June 2013)

  10. Rigby Group
    IT and infrastructure (Rigby family) - £2,202 million sales (year ended March 2013)

  11. Specsavers
    Opticians (Perkins family) - £1,917 million* sales (year ending February 2013)

  12. Pentland Group
    Brand retailers (Rubin family) - £1,910 million sales (year ending December 2013)

  13. Shop Direct
    Retailers (Barclay family) - £1,698 million sales (year ending June 2013)

  14. Bakkavor
    Food production (Gudmundsson family) - £1,650 million sales (year ending December 2013)

  15. Bibby Line Group
    Conglomerate (Bibby family) - £1,592 million sales (year ending December 2013)

  16. Clarks
    Footwear (Clark family) - £1,541 million sales (year ending January 2014)

  17. Wilkinson
    Retailers (Wilkinson family) - £1,501 million# sales (year ending February 2013)

  18. Marshall Group
    Car retailer and engineering (Marshall family) - £1,294 million sales (year ending December 2013)

  19. Dyson
    Appliance manufacturer (Dyson family) - £1,240 million* sales (year ending December 2012)

  20. AF Blakemore & Son
    Food distributor (Blakemore family) - £1,135 million sales (year ending April 2013)

Source - The Sunday Times Top Track 100 (as published 29 June, 2014)
Notes - * figures not listed at Companies House, # annualised sales figures

Penny Lovell, Head of Private Clients at Close Brothers Asset Management added: “These figures highlight the significant role family businesses play as a driver for growth in the UK economy. Their ability to innovate and expand across the generations has seen them adapt and thrive from the days of the Industrial Revolution right to today’s digital economy and doubtless for many centuries to come."

“During 2014 I’ve had the privilege to meet many inspirational family businesses and find out first hand how they tackle the challenges they face. In recent months, for example, together with a strengthening economy, financial directors have seen a wave of Budget changes. Sound financial planning advice can empower family firms to take full advantage of these opportunities.  Succession planning and exit strategies for key people in the business, tax incentives for investment and auto-enrolment pension schemes are all areas where we at Close Brothers can provide support and clarity.” 

Family businesses deserve to be recognised for the difference they make across the UK and with household names such as Dyson, JCB, Specsavers and Wilkinson in the top 20, these firms will go some way to changing perceptions of the family business sector and generating a real ‘buzz’ about the contribution they make.



Supporting Links




Related News

John Lewis Champions Bolney Wines

Family owned Bolney Wine Estate Sparkling Wines are to be sold in John Lewis stores this summer. Read More

It's A Shoe-In For Robin Elt Shoes!

Family business Robin Elt Shoes win Ladies’ Independent Retailer of the Year Award 2017. Read More

Speedo Launches H2O Active

Speedo has teamed up with global fitness trend, aquaphysical, to celebrate the launch of H2O Active, a versatile and eco-friendly new workout collection for women to wear in and out of the water. Read More

comments powered by Disqus