Family businesses see sales hike

Steve Dinneen
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THE economy may be weighed down by high inflation and unemployment but family owned businesses appear to be weathering the storm.

The top 10 family owned firms all increased their sales in the last year.

Total sales for the UK’s biggest family-owned businesses rose 10.2 per cent to £35.5bn, driven by a strong performance from the top four companies – Associated British Foods (ABF), Stemcor, Swire Group and Laing O’Rourke, according to a survey conducted by the Institute for Family Business (IFB).

ABF, which owns brands including Kingsmill, Primark and Twinings, topped the table although Stemcor, the world’s largest independent steel trader, narrowed the gap in second.

The top three places remained the same as last year. The only new entry to the list is Shop Direct, the online and home shopping retailer, replacing European Metal Recycling.

IFB director general Grant Gordon said: “The UK has seen difficult trading conditions in the last year, but there have been some remarkable success stories among the UK’s top family businesses.

“With family firms contributing almost one third of our GDP the family business sector is becoming an increasingly important part of the UK’s future economic growth,” Grant added.


ABF was founded by Toronto-born W Garfield Weston in 1935. Third generation George Weston, 47, is currently chief executive.
Stemcor was formed in 1951 by Hans Oppenheimer. The majority of shares are still held by the family.