The Bamford family's JCB is in the top 10

Britain's 10 largest family businesses revealed

Here's 10 businesses that have made a success of keeping things in the family.

by Jack Torrance
Last Updated: 15 Oct 2014

Family businesses account for a quarter of British GDP, but new research from PwC suggests they might need to up their game. It found family businesses in the UK are more cautious than their counterparts in emerging markets. Just 8% of British family firms plan to expand aggressively in the next five years, compared to 57% in China and 40% in India.

'There’s worrying evidence that, as they age, growth and innovation become a lower priority for family businesses,' Sian Steele, a partner at PwC said. 'Third, fourth or later generations place more emphasis on ensuring that the business remains in the family. In today’s environment though, no business can afford to stand still.'

Although 43% of family business owners plan to hand over the reins to their children, and 22% want to pass on ownership while bringing a professional management team on board, only 13% has a formal succession plan in place.

PwC also revealed the UK's largest family firms, defined as a business where the majority of voting shares are held by the original founder or his/her family, and where a family member is still involved in the running of the company. In the case of listed companies it includes those where the founding family still owns at least 25% of the right to vote and a family member is still on the board.

Here are the top 10:

1. Swire (Swire family) - £6.3bn sales (year ended December 2013)

Swire is a large and diverse conglomerate with interests in property, the airline Cathay Pacific, food production and distribution, shipping and industry across the world.

2. Stemcor (Oppenheimer family) - £5.1bn sales (year ended December 2012)

London-based Stemcor is the world's largest independent steel trader, and employs 2,000 staff.

3. Laing O'Rourke (O'Rourke family) - £3.2bn sales (year ended March 2013)

This international construction and engineering firm was founded back in 1978 by Ray O'Rourke.

4. European Metal Recycling (Sheppard family) - £3.2bn sales (year ended December 2012)

EMR, based in Warrington, is best-known for its mountains of scrap metal on the banks of the Mersey, but its empire stretches way beyond the north-west.

5. Arnold Clark Automobiles (Clark family) - £2.9bn sales (year ended December 2013)

Founded by the motor tycoon of the same name, Arnold Clark is Europe's largest family-run car dealership, selling 200,000 motors per year.

6. 2 Sisters Food Group (Boparan family) - £2.9bn sales (year ended July 2013)

2 Sisters was created in 1993 by Rajit Singh Boparan, initially as a poultry processing company. Now it is the third largest food company in the UK and owns the Fox's biscuits and Goodfella's pizza brands.

7. Arcadia (Green family) - £2.7bn sales (year ended August 2013)

Philip and Tina Green's retail empire, which owns BHS, Miss Selfridge and Topshop. Daughter Chloe Green has her own shoe brand. Its website notes that she 'was always destined for a future in the fashion world.'

always destined for a future in the fashion world
always destined for a future in the fashion world

8. JCB (Bamford family) - £2.7bn sales (year ended December 2013)

Lord Anthony Bamford's plant machinery makers, which was founded by his father Joseph in 1945.
9. Bestway Group (Pervez family) - £2.5bn sales (year ended June 2013)

The UK's second-largest cash and carry was founded in 1976 by Sir Anwar Pervez.

10. Rigby Group (Rigby family) - £2.2bn sales (year ended March 2013)

The Rigby Group began as Specialist Computer Centres when founded by Peter Rigby (Now Sir Peter) in 1975. It is now a large conglomerate spanning technology, aviation, hotels and property.


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