Credit: Betty Longbottom/Geograph

Keeping it in the family pays dividends

Family firms contributed 26% of Britain's GDP in 2014, up 4%.

by Jack Torrance
Last Updated: 27 May 2016

Family businesses are enjoying a healthy growth spurt at the moment. In 2014 they contributed 26% of Britain’s GDP, a 4% rise on 2013, and the number of people they employed leapt 6%, ahead of the national average.

That’s according to research by Oxford Economics for the Institute for Family Business, which said the figures were ‘an important reminder of how vital family-run firms are to the UK.’ The majority (87%) of private businesses are family-owned and while most of these are small companies, the report found there are 16,500 medium-sized (defined by the EU as 50-250 staff) and large family businesses in the UK. One in ten of all ‘large’ firms are family owned.

‘Family businesses have always been at the very heart of the UK economy and based on the steady rise in their recruitment and turnover, it is clear they are here to stay,’ said IFB chairman Peter Armitage.

Read more: 10 ways to structure a business

The rising fortunes of family businesses mirrors a general sense of buoyancy across most types of privately-owned companies. From east London tech start-ups to private equity-backed restaurant chains, many of those without a stock market listing are having a good time of things at the moment. 

Proponents of the family business model suggest such companies benefit from more of a long-term perspective on things, preferring to invest to ensure they remain in business to splashing the cash in an attempt to get rich quick. 'With no outside shareholders we can ignore corporate box ticking and be guided by common sense,' says Timpson boss John Timpson.  

Of course that’s all fine and dandy until a pair of siblings falls out about something important (and things get a bit ‘left Twix, right Twix’). Plus there’s always a danger that non-family employees, especially in the upper echelons, will feel like victims of nepotism. Nonetheless family firms seems to be on a roll.


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