SCOTLAND’s biggest companies are continuing to recover from the recession caused by the global financial crisis of 2007-08.
Edinburgh-based Standard Life was rated the number one firm north of the border for the third year running by Scottish Business Insider in January, with a turnover of £22.9 billion and profits of £915 million.
The company was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2006 and employs more than 6500 staff.
But what of the nation’s firms that remain in private control?
Here are five of the most profitable, which cover a diverse range of interests from drinks to publishing.
The Edrington Group
The whisky and spirits group owns a variety of well-known brands including The Famous Grouse, Highland Park and The Macallan. The Glasgow-based company is a major player in the global drinks industry and traces its roots to a blending firm established by W.A. Robertson in 1850. It posted a sharp fall in pre-tax profits in June following a £239 million writedown for its Brugal rum brand, reported the BBC. Group profits fell 9.4 per cent to £157.6m in the year to March. Turnover was down 2.4 per cent to £617.1m. Sales of Macallan single malt grew considerably, with Edrington now claiming market-leading positions in Russia, China, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong.
Arnold Clark Group
Sir Arnold Clark opened his first car showroom in Glasgow’s Park Road in 1954 and his company now stands as the largest privately-owned business in Scotland with more than 8000 employees. Clark’s 60th anniversary of trading was a happy one - it posted a 17.5 per cent rise in sales to £2.92 billion. The Scotsman reported its pre-tax profits jumped by an even healthier 40 per cent to £85.2 million.
D.C. Thomson & Co
The Dundee-based publisher has remained family-owned throughout its history. David Coupar Thomson took charge of the family’s newspaper interests in 1884 and reestablished the firm as D.C. Thomson in 1905. It owns, among others, the Sunday Post, The Beano comic and the Scots Magazine. The Herald reported in 2014 the company had seen a rise in annual pre-tax profits from £23.7 million to £24.9m in spite of a fall in revenues.
The frozen food retailer began life as an Aberdeen-based meat processing operation in 1955 and today operates more than 300 stores across the UK. Headquartered in Cumbernauld, Farmfoods owned around 30 shops in Scotland when it first expanded south of the border in the early 1990s following the acquisition of several rival businesses. The company is run and largely owned by the Herd family. The Daily Telegraph reported its revenues were £852 million in 2014, up 18 per cent, with pre-tax profits climbing 38 per cent to £21m.
James Jones & Sons
The sawmill and timber engineering firm has been family-owned for five generations. Headquartered in Larbert, near Falkirk, the business supplied the timbers used in the building of Captain Scott’s exploration vessel, Discovery, in 1901. Today, it is the largest sawmiller in Scotland and a leading supplier of timber across the UK. It is also the second-largest manufacturer of wooden pallets, and owns a 20 per cent stake in Scottish Woodlands, a commercial forest management company.