Scotland business

Report lists oldest Scottish family firms

John White & Son premises in Fife
Image caption John White & Son has been running as a family business since 1715

Scotland's 25 oldest family firms have clocked up more than 3,700 years in business between them, according to new research.

A report by Family Business United and Close Brothers Asset Management (CBAM) found the companies had been trading for an average of 148 years each.

It named Fife-based John White & Son Ltd as Scotland's oldest family firm.

The company, which operates from Auchtermuchty, started producing weighing machines in 1715.

Its present managing director, Edwin White, is the eighth generation to be involved in the business following in the footsteps of his ancestor John White almost 300 years ago.

Family firms Johnstons of Elgin (founded 1797) and J Hewit & Sons, based in Livingston (1806), completed the oldest three family businesses.

Others listed in the oldest 25 were Moray-based firms Walkers Shortbread (founded 1898) and Baxters (1868), and Dundee-based comic book publisher DC Thomson (1905).

'Pivotal role'

The report argued that family businesses played "a pivotal role" in the Scottish economy, employing 50% of the Scottish private sector workforce.

However, it also pointed out that only 33% of all family businesses made it to the second generation, while only 10% reached the third generation.

CBAM head of private client services, Penny Lovell, said: "Family businesses have played a fundamental role in shaping the economic and cultural landscape of Scotland.

"The innovation and enterprise of family businesses has seen them adapt and thrive through the Industrial Revolution to the Digital Age, and establish themselves as the lifeblood of the Scottish - and wider UK - economy.

"Across the UK as a whole, family businesses now account for almost of a third of UK's GDP, and as our research demonstrates with the right support, there is no reason why the oldest cannot trade for another 300 years and be just as relevant as in their infancy."

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