Scotland’s top privately owned firms grew profits by almost a third over the past 12 months, according Grant Thornton’s annual review of the sector.
The 2014 Scotland Ltd report, which assesses the commercial performance of Scotland’s 100 biggest limited businesses, reveals that the firms grew revenue by 9 per cent on average.
Employment rose by 12 per cent with profits boosted by 32 per cent on average. However, the gains were unevenly spread – 40 of the top 100 companies recorded double-digit profit growth, suggesting some enjoyed a much higher rate.
Kevin Engel, managing partner at Grant Thornton in Scotland, said: “Our analysis highlights a common thread in Scottish industry – resilience.
“The top 100 limited companies may operate across a variety of sectors but they have achieved growth in some of the toughest trading conditions.
“The overall picture is of increased demand, productivity and confidence. A dynamic, agile and entrepreneurial spirit has created robust, hungry and confident businesses.”
The top 100 employ more than 103,000 people and create a combined operating profit of £882 million, from revenues of £20.6 billion. Grant Thornton’s analysis also shows businesses over the last 12 months the companies slashed their combined debt from £2.8bn to £1.7bn, while the levels of cash held grew by 11 per cent to £1.2bn.
Arnold Clark Automobiles was highest ranked firm this year, followed by whisky firms William Grant & Sons and Edrington Group.
Engel said: “The contribution of Scotland’s private sector is not in question, but this report provides some fantastic success stories. The dramatically increased profile of Scotland over the last 12 months has created a window of opportunity for Scottish businesses and the achievements of the nation’s leading firms should be commended.”
Business minister Fergus Ewing said: “This survey underlines the confidence that exists among Scottish businesses, and builds on recent surveys from the Office of National Statistics and Bank of Scotland which highlight a strengthening labour market and growth.”
John Clark, whose John Clark Motor Group was tenth on the top 100 list, added: “The last few years have seen challenges for all businesses but also opportunities. The Scotland Limited report reinforces what we saw and heard from customers. Barring the uncertainty of the referendum period, we have been reaping the benefits of an economy in recovery, where Scottish growth was ahead of the UK.
“However, there are still bank interest rate rise, oil price and eurozone economy challenges ahead, all of which could see reduced consumer and business confidence.”
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