Collaboration and resilience fuel growth in Scotland

Andrew Howie Andrew Howie

There are undoubtedly some significant political and economic challenges on the horizon including Brexit. But we are confident that the business community is more resilient than ever before with a clear focus on building a vibrant economy driven by sustainable, long-term growth. Our purpose, with Scotland Limited is to take a snapshot view of the country’s economy and evaluate where we stand.

The business community north of the border has experience in planning for uncertainty. The 2009 global economic crisis had a significant impact on a number of sectors, including property and construction and financial services. Meanwhile, the 2014 Scottish independence referendum reinforced the need for companies to consider how prepared they would be for any seismic shifts in the regulatory, political and financial world. The last twelve months have once again tested long-term contingency planning, but our analysis offers some reassurance that the country is in a strong position to weather any potential future disruption.

Now in its fourth year, our Scotland Limited report reveals the top 100 private limited companies, based on a hybrid of turnover and profits. The report also looks in more detail at regional and sector-focused trends, highlighting some of the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Collaboration to ensure success

The continuing success of the food and drink sector is reflected in our 2017 analysis, with 25 companies making this year’s list, up one from last year. Drinks firm William Grant & Sons Holdings Limited maintains its position at the top of the table, while The Edrington Group Limited takes third place. The dominant position of food and drink shouldn’t come as a surprise. A concerted effort to work more collaboratively and build an international brand has paid off, backed by the support of truly innovative organisations like Scotland Food & Drink and the Scottish Food & Drink Federation. The 25 businesses making this year’s list have witnessed rising turnover – up from £3.7 billion in 2016 to £4.9 billion, while the number of people working for the companies has also increased from 19,239 in 2016 to 24,552.

Recovery to growth

Brexit may have led the news agenda, but uncertainty over Scotland’s most important industry group – energy – also loomed large for much of the year. Seven energy firms are represented on our 2017 list – down from nine in 2016. Turnover has also dipped from £1.4 billion in 2016, to £1.2 billion. But, there are signs of a slow and steady recovery, with the number of people employed by those firms increasing from 6,990 to 7,316. We’ve also witnessed the returning optimism in the north east of Scotland. Our practice office in the Granite City opened its doors in late 2016 and has enjoyed steady growth, with the team moving to the Silver Fin Building in January 2018. The development, located in Union Street, is one of a number of construction projects providing a much needed confidence boost to the region as a whole.

The property and construction sector throughout Scotland continues to witness a slow and steady recovery from the 2009 economic crisis, and that’s clearly evident in our research. This year, 21 companies make the top 100 – up one from 2016. The number of employees has also increased from 14,571 to 16,963. A combination of increased public infrastructure investment and a growing demand for housing and commercial property appears to be behind the positive figures. But, combined turnover has fallen slightly from £3.3 billion in 2016 to £3.1 billion – highlighting the fragility of the sector’s recovery, and the need to continue to focus on driving up skills and innovation.

Now, more than ever, businesses need to prepare for future disruption and uncertainty. Download Scotland Limited 2017 [ 4792 kb ] today to discover the secrets behind the success of our most dynamic companies, and our analysis and insight on the potential challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in 2018.

If you would like to discuss the report further, please contact Andrew Howie.

Scotland Limited 2017
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