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UK family businesses growing rapidly, report

The ability to plan for long-term growth and an emphasis on stewardship is helping the UK’s biggest family businesses, such as Associated British Food, to achieve strong growth, despite the tough economic conditions, according to the Institute for Family Businesses.

The ability to plan for long-term growth and an emphasis on stewardship is helping the UK’s biggest family businesses, such as Associated British Food, to achieve strong growth, despite the tough economic conditions, according to the Institute for Family Businesses.

New research released by the IFB, a lobby group promoting family businesses in the UK, shows that sales in the top 10 British family-run companies soared by 10.2% last year.

ABF, which is 54.5% owned by the Weston family, topped the IFB’s list of the strongest preforming UK family business, holding off competition from Stemcor, the world’s largest independent steel trader.

Multinational ABF, owner of brands such as Kingsmill, Primark and Twinings, achieved sales of £10.2 billion (€11.7 billion) last year, up from £9.3 billion in 2009, while the Oppenheimer family’s Stemcor saw its sales grow from £3.2 billion in 2009 to £5.1 billion 12 months later.

Other companies in the top 10 included Swire Group, construction company Laing O’Rourke, where sales grew from £2.5 billion to £3.5 billion, and Arnold Clark.

The Barclay family’s Shop Direct Group was a new entry in the top 10, while Bestway Group has risen from 10th last year to seventh.

“The top 10 are all businesses that have been successful for a number of years and as family businesses they have the ability to plan for long-term growth. They can also achieve these goals thanks to the values of stewardship that exist in progressive family businesses," said IFB director general Grant Gordon.

Family firms contribute almost one-third of UK GDP and are becoming an increasingly important part of the country’s future economic growth, he said.  

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