Business management

Celebrating UK family businesses

Family Business Week recognises the contribution these special businesses make to economic growth and community spirit. Here’s what we can learn from them.

According to research by Oxford Economics commissioned by the IFB Research Foundation on the UK family business sector in 2020–2021, 86% of UK businesses are family owned. They create jobs and drive growth all around the UK by employing over 14 million people, and they contribute £637bn to UK GDP.

Here are the key takeouts from discussions led by the Institute for Family Business throughout the week-long celebration.

Family businesses are vital to local communities

All the sessions highlighted how important family businesses are to their communities – in economic and employment terms, but also in supporting the wider ecosystem. As well as community projects, there is a community of business leaders, too.

  • Family firms have strong roots into their communities that are built over generations. Many spoke about the importance of ensuring the health of the wider community for the long-term future.
  • A key part of employee engagement and demonstrating family values is through supporting local charities with time and donations.


What are the barriers to success for family businesses?

There are several challenges family firms say they face in achieving their business objectives.

  • Inflation, energy prices, supply chain issues and political instability were all highlighted as significant challenges facing businesses.
  • Skills and availability of staff was a standout issue – for businesses across a range of regions and sectors.
  • There was a sense that family firms may be better placed than non-family firms when it came to recruitment, given strong local reputations as good employers.
  • Longer term, as younger generations seek to work for firms with a strong sense of purpose and responsible businesses, there is an opportunity for family firms in the war for talent.

Being a family business could help weather the storm

While the businesses could all point to short- and medium-term challenges, there was a sense that being a family business put them in a good position for future challenges.

The guests pointed to examples of resilience over generations, and highlighted some of the strengths they saw in the family business model:

  • Innovation and agility – the ability and tendency of family firms and their management to identify opportunities, and act quickly when they arise. 
  • Shared sense of purpose – this clarity means owners can take decisions for the long-term resilience of the business, not short-term fluctuations.

The importance of people in family businesses

Speaking to and seeking support from others came up as a key theme during Family Business Week. Organisers discussed the role of non-family members in senior executive and non-executive roles, including how to find the right people, ensuring they understand your business and family, and how they can challenge thinking to support new ways of working or approaching growth.

  • There was a sense of positivity about the next generation coming into and eventually leading their businesses. They have great experience, and enthusiasm to build successes for future generations.
  • The importance of a strong peer network of fellow family business owners was also highlighted. This can bring real benefits as a source of support when seeking to navigate some of the challenges that come with owning and running a family business.

Celebrating family businesses

We continue to champion the resilience and innovation of family businesses in the UK. Take a look at these case studies and the central role they play in shaping and supporting their local communities, as well as driving economic growth.

GAP Group

Platts Agriculture

EA Stephens


This material is published by NatWest Group plc (“NatWest Group”), for information purposes only and should not be regarded as providing any specific advice. Recipients should make their own independent evaluation of this information and no action should be taken, solely relying on it. This material should not be reproduced or disclosed without our consent. It is not intended for distribution in any jurisdiction in which this would be prohibited. Whilst this information is believed to be reliable, it has not been independently verified by NatWest Group and NatWest Group makes no representation or warranty (express or implied) of any kind, as regards the accuracy or completeness of this information, nor does it accept any responsibility or liability for any loss or damage arising in any way from any use made of or reliance placed on, this information. Unless otherwise stated, any views, forecasts, or estimates are solely those of NatWest Group, as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Copyright © NatWest Group. All rights reserved.

scroll to top