Political uncertainty fails to dent profits & headcount for Scotland’s limited companies


Scotland’s top private firms employed more people, increased salaries and witnessed a rise in profits in 2017, despite ongoing political and economic uncertainty.
Data published in Grant Thornton UK’s annual Scotland Limited report assesses the commercial performance over the past year of Scotland’s top 100 privately owned limited businesses.
This year’s report reveals a total combined turnover of £21.4 billion, up from £20.8 billion in 2016. Total profits before taxation increased from £1.4 billion in 2016 to £1.6 billion. Meanwhile, the total number of people employed by the top 100 firms rose from 110,632 in 2016 to 119,087 in 2017, with total remuneration also increasing from £3.1 billion to £3.3 billion.
Andrew Howie, Managing Partner of Grant Thornton in Scotland, said:
“2017 was undoubtedly a challenging year for the Scottish economy, but there’s little doubt that resilience and a sharper focus on achieving sustainable, long-term growth have become embedded in our industrial strategy, which has helped to counter the global challenges that lie ahead.”
Once again, Scotland’s Food & Drink sector dominates the list with 25 companies in the top 100, up from 24 in 2016. The list includes William Grant & Sons at number 1 and The Edrington Group, taking third place. The 25-strong group witnessed a combined turnover of £4.9 billion – up from £3.7 billion in 2016. Meanwhile, the total number of employees rose from 19,239 to 24,552.
James Chadwick, Head of Food & Drink at Grant Thornton in Scotland, added:
“Scotland’s food & drink companies have good reason to celebrate, after another incredibly impressive year of growth. Key to the success has been a genuine commitment to collaborate, enabling the widest possible range of companies – from small start-ups to long-established family-run operations, to build on each other’s success and champion a single Scottish food and drink brand on the global marketplace.”
The ongoing challenges facing Scotland’s energy sector are reflected in this year’s report with the number of firms from the industry group down from 9 in 2016, to 7, and total turnover down from £1.4 billion to £1.2 billion. However, 2017’s data offers some optimistic indications for the year ahead, with the total number of employees up from 6,990 to 7,316.
Barry Fraser, Grant Thornton’s Head of Energy & Natural Resources in Scotland, commented:
“Led by a decline in oil prices, Scotland’s energy sector has endured a challenging period with cost cutting and a lack of new investment. However, the industry is resilient and many companies have adapted and made themselves more efficient, re-focused on stronger international markets, diversified into other industries and collaborated to expand their product and service offerings.  Oil price has also now improved and there are positive signs that this will help increase investment into the sector.
We’re not out of the woods yet, but Scotland’s energy sector will continue to have an important role to play in the country’s economy for years to come.”
Key Scotland Ltd findings of the Top 100 private Scottish businesses:

  • Combined turnover up from £20.8bn to £21.4bn
  • Profits before taxation up from £1.4bn to £1.6bn
  • Total number of employees up from 110,632 to 119,087
  • Total remuneration up from £3.1bn to £3.3bn
  • Number of firms in the top 100 by sector:
  • 25 Food & Drink businesses
  • 22 Manufacturing & Industrial businesses
  • 21 Property & Construction businesses
  • 10 Automotive businesses
  • 7 Energy businesses
  • 6 Retail businesses
  • 4 Transport businesses
  • 2 Technology, Media & Telecommunications businesses
  • 1 Business Support Services business
  • 1 Financial Services business
  • 1 Private Healthcare business.

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