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
Conglomerate (Swire family) - £6,253 million* sales (year ended December 2013)
Steel (Oppnheimer family) - £5,112 million sales (year ended December 2012)
- Laing O'Rourke
Construction and engineering (O'Rourke family) - £3,228 million sales (year ended March 2013)
- European Metal Recycling
Metal recycling (Sheppard family) - £3,184 million* sales (year ended December 2012)
- Arnold Clark Automobiles
Car dealerships (Clark family) - £2,919 million sales (year ended December 2013)
- 2 Sisters Food Group
Food production (Boparan family) - £2,885 million sales (year ended July 2013)
Fashion retail (Green family) - £2,736 million sales (year ended August 2013)
Construction and engineering (Bamford family) - £2,680 million* sales (year ended December 2013)
- Bestway Group
Cash & carry (Pervez family) - £2,518 million* sales (year ended June 2013)
- Rigby Group
IT and infrastructure (Rigby family) - £2,202 million sales (year ended March 2013)
Opticians (Perkins family) - £1,917 million* sales (year ending February 2013)
- Pentland Group
Brand retailers (Rubin family) - £1,910 million sales (year ending December 2013)
- Shop Direct
Retailers (Barclay family) - £1,698 million sales (year ending June 2013)
Food production (Gudmundsson family) - £1,650 million sales (year ending December 2013)
- Bibby Line Group
Conglomerate (Bibby family) - £1,592 million sales (year ending December 2013)
Footwear (Clark family) - £1,541 million sales (year ending January 2014)
Retailers (Wilkinson family) - £1,501 million# sales (year ending February 2013)
- Marshall Group
Car retailer and engineering (Marshall family) - £1,294 million sales (year ending December 2013)
Appliance manufacturer (Dyson family) - £1,240 million* sales (year ending December 2012)
- 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.