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Resilient growth in Scotland's private companies

Andrew Howie Andrew Howie

Scotland’s top private companies have witnessed a rise in combined earnings and headcount, despite growing economic and political uncertainty. Discover how these companies set themselves apart in Scotland Limited, our annual report exploring what is behind Scotland's 100 most dynamic, fast-growing businesses.

Diverse, robust and resilient

This year the top 100 companies have all demonstrated that Scotland's economy is diverse, robust and resilient. This year’s findings reveal total combined earnings (EBITDA) of £2.7 billion – up from £2.3 billion in 2017. Meanwhile, headcount among the top firms has risen from 119,087 to 138,234. 

Food and drink firms are now proudly operating on the global stage, championing brands that reflect quality, sustainability and passion. Indeed, Scotland’s food and drink sector contains the highest share of the top 100, for the fourth year in a row. A total of 24 companies fall within the group, down slightly from 25 in 2017. Employee numbers are also down, from 24,552 to 23,875. However, EBITDA has increased from just under £720 million to £859 million.

For real estate and construction companies, a commitment to grow in a tough climate has delivered promising results. A combination of public and private investment and a desire to meet rising demand for office and residential space has laid the foundations for companies to grow sustainably. In the sector, 15 firms make this year’s list, down from 21 in 2017. But earnings have increased – from £376 million to £413 million.

Meanwhile, the energy, natural resources, manufacturing and industrial spaces are regaining lost ground, rebuilding and diversifying following several years of decline. The energy sector in particular has witnessed an increase in representation – from 7 companies in 2017 to 11 in 2018. Combined headcount has also risen sharply, from 7,316 to 14,785, and EBITDA is up from £135 million to £296 million.

Sharing in success

With collective EBITDA of more than £2.7 billion, Scotland’s top 100 limited companies are demonstrating that privately owned companies with a clearly defined strategy, a focus on innovation and a commitment to grow in challenging times, are the secret to ensuring that the economy continues to flourish for years to come.

Download Scotland Limited 2018 [ 3587 kb ] to learn more about the success of the country’s top 100 private limited companies. If you would like to discuss the report in more detail, or have any questions, please contact Andrew Howie.

Scotland Limited is now an annual exploration of the most successful private companies, providing a yardstick against which the country can assess its economic performance, and businesses can benchmark themselves against their peers.