Earnings head north at ‘Scotland Limited’

Andrew Howie ' proudly operating on global stage. Picture: Contributed
Andrew Howie ' proudly operating on global stage. Picture: Contributed
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Scotland’s largest private companies have battled a backdrop of economic and political uncertainty to notch up a rise in combined profits and headcount.

Total combined underlying earnings came in at £2.7 billion last year, up from £2.3bn in 2017, according to Grant Thornton’s annual “Scotland Limited” report that assesses the commercial performance of the nation’s top 100 private limited companies.

Headcount among the top firms, meanwhile, has risen from 119,087 to 138,234, the study noted.

The data analyses both regional and industry trends, and has revealed that 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, though that is down slightly from 25 in 2017. Employee numbers were also down – from 24,552 to 23,875 – but combined earnings increased from just under £720 million to £859m.

Andrew Howie, Grant Thornton’s managing partner in Scotland and head of international, said: “The top 100 companies have all demonstrated that our country’s economy is diverse, robust and resilient.

“Our food and drink firms are now proudly operating on the global stage, championing brands that reflect quality, sustainability and passion.

“For our real estate and construction companies, a commitment to grow in a tough climate has delivered promising results. Meanwhile, the energy, natural resources, manufacturing and industrial spaces are regaining lost ground, rebuilding and diversifying, following several years of decline.”

He added: “In recent years, Scotland has witnessed its fair share of political and economic uncertainty. With political dialogue and debate ongoing in Edinburgh, London and Brussels, the business community faces the challenge of planning for growth in a disruptive climate. But, we enter this period in a healthy, confident and resilient position.”