Covid-19 takes its toll on Scotland’s family businesses, but resilience key to recovery

Kirsty Ross, KPMG’s head of family business in Scotland

SCOTLAND’S family businesses have been among the most impacted in the world from the pandemic according to new research.

KPMG’s Global Family Business Report questioned almost 3,000 family-owned firms around the world, including leading companies in Scotland, exploring how the pandemic has hit revenues and growth plans.

The data reveals Scottish companies are among the most impacted by the pandemic, alongside fellow businesses in England and Wales, with 80% saying Covid-19 has affected revenues – 11% percent higher than the global average.

Meanwhile, UK family-owned businesses say their priority strategy throughout the restrictions has been making use of the furlough scheme.

Across Europe and the Americas, most companies said their priority was adopting remote working practices, while in Asia and the Middle East the top strategy was freezing recruitment or cutting staff numbers.

While KPMG’s research highlights the challenges facing the sector, some of Scotland’s oldest companies remain fiercely independent with right heritage and generational insight, helping to build resilience.

Described as the ‘backbone’ of the Scottish economy, family-owned businesses contribute billions to Scotland’s finances, with the top 100 alone employing more than 112,000 people and generating turnover in excess of £20 billion.

Kirsty Ross, KPMG’s head of family business in Scotland, said: “Scotland is home to some of the largest percentages of family firms in the world – many of them household names in the food and drink world, hospitality, agriculture and retail.

“The last few years have taken their toll, from Brexit to the pandemic, but there is a constant theme throughout this.

“When I speak to business leaders, they tell me that they’ve been here before. Generational insight and history enables family companies to look back at past challenges and learn from each other.

“It’s that sense of resilience that ensures that they continue to play such a pivotal role in the future success of the country’s economy.”

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