Profits and unemployment down due to ‘political and economic uncertainty’

Grant ThorntonScotland’s top private firms have suffered a drop in combined profits amid a climate of growing political and economic uncertainty, according to Grant Thornton.

The financial and business adviser’s annual Scotland Ltd report assesses the commercial performance, in the last year, of Scotland’s top 100 privately owned limited companies. This year’s findings reveal total combined profits of £16.6 billion - down from £20.8 billion in the 2015 report.

The challenging times facing the business community is also reflected in employment statistics, with a total of 110,632 people working for the top 100 firms – down from 116,284 in 2015.

Scotland’s food and drink sector contains the highest share of businesses in the top 100, including the number one ranked business William Grant and Sons Holdings Limited. A total of 24 food, drink and leisure businesses make this year’s list, an increase of 3 from 2015. However, the sector isn’t immune from the current economic challenges facing the country. Despite more firms from the sector making this year’s list, combined turnover is down from £4.1 billion in 2015 to £3.7 billion in 2016.

The energy sector faced some of its biggest challenges in 2016, with Aberdeen and the north east bearing the brunt of the oil and gas downturn - but the data from 2016 raises some cautious optimism. Nine companies have made this year’s top 100 – up from seven in 2015. Turnover is also up from £1.2 billion in 2015 to £1.4 billion.

Scotland’s property and construction sector has witnessed a cautious and consistent recovery following the 2009 global economic downturn, which had a significant impact on the industry. 20 property and construction companies made the top 100 list, up from 17 in 2015. Meanwhile, the number of people directly employed by the property and construction firms in top 100 now stands at 14,571 – almost 2,000 more than last year.

However, the report warns that a potential ‘hard Brexit’ could have major consequences for the property and construction industry - warning that the sector could be “tested more than ever” in 2017.

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