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Family businesses 'crucial to British economy?

By Attracta Mooney

Family businesses could play a far greater role in the British economy if they were offered the right level of support, according to the UK Family Business Alliance.

Peter Thornton, one of the founders of the organisation, said the UK economy would be boosted if it didn’t rely so heavily on finance and banking.

“There is a need for a new direction for the economy, with family businesses contributing far more,” he added.

The UK family business sector is already more profitable than the non-family business sector, whether the businesses are quoted or unquoted, he said, but there is still further room for growth.

In Germany, family businesses contribute 49% of GDP – this figure is just 31% in the UK.

“If necessary steps are taken, the family business sector in the UK can match that of Germany with a consequent very beneficial effect on the UK economy,” said Thornton, who was the former chairman of chocolate makers Thornton’s.

The organisation is aiming to help family businesses deal with issues from transfer of ownership to selecting the right people for roles.

Family firm will be able to reach out to experts and other businesses through the website, the alliance said, although no direct selling is allowed.

This sharing of knowledge will play an important role in helping family businesses to survive for longer, said Thornton.  

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