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Family businesses need govt support to help recovery, FBN Summit hears

The British government should roll out the red carpet to make the UK a “dynamic global hub” for family businesses.

The British government should roll out the red carpet to make the UK a “dynamic global hub” for family businesses.

That’s according to Ross Warburton, chairman of the Institute for Family Business and an executive director at his family’s bakery company, who was speaking at the ongoing Family Business Network International Summit in London.

He reckons the government should support family-owned firms in the UK, which account for two-thirds of private sector companies, by making family businesses an important “strategic partner”. This, he added, will attract investment and improve exports to family businesses in other countries.  

“Wherever you look, despite the challenges, family firms continue to thrive and grow and are in many cases outperforming other businesses – a testament to the strength and resilience of the family business model,” he said on 4 October.

Warburton, whose family business traces its roots back to 1876 when it was started as a small grocery store, added that family-run groups in the UK want to help find solutions for growth in the current challenging economic environment. This cannot be done without support from the government, he added.

“Given the right conditions we can work more effectively together to deliver the growth, jobs and investments that will benefit our national economy and local communities,” he said.

The comments from Warburton, whose family business posted a £3 million (€3.7 million) rise in revenues in fiscal 2011 to £495 million, come at a time when privately held firms in the UK appear to be struggling.

According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics, profitability at non-financial, privately controlled companies dropped by 0.2% in the second quarter of 2012 compared to the first.

In the manufacturing sector, return on capital remained the same as the previous quarter at 4.9%, while service companies saw a marginal 0.1% increase in returns to 15.8%.

Warburton further added: “In an age where the shock of the economic meltdown has raised questions in many quarters about corporate practice and the role of private enterprise in society, the deep-rooted culture of family firms has much to offer the broader business community.”

The UK is home to almost three million family-owned firms and includes construction equipment-maker JCB, which had sales of €3.4 billion last year, and Young’s Brewery, which had revenues of around €220 million.

Both placed in CampdenFB’s2012 list of the fastest growing family businesses in the world.

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