The family business sector is a vital cog in the UK’s economic machine. A very significant employer of approximately 12 million people, a major contributor to the Chancellor’s coffers and the country’s overall GDP annually; its importance cannot be underestimated.
However, it is not just nationally, or even economically, where the sector plays, arguably, its most important role. Its presence within its local communities, as an employer, investor, supporter or representative is hugely significant. It is at the forefront and driving forward business communities and organisations right across the country, championing the role of industry and enterprise at a local and national level. This is fundamental in ensuring the sustainability and future for many regions within the UK.
The hugely influential and important role of the family business sector makes it even more crucial that they can survive and prosper. Succession planning is hard, no matter what the sector, but with family businesses sometimes the options can be restricted. However, with less than a quarter of businesses surviving beyond third generation, finding the successors is clearly a challenge. This is where communication, understanding and flexibility are paramount.
As the winds of change continue to dominate the political, economic and social landscape in the UK, the family business sector, old and new, remains a constant. It does continue to grow and thrive, while maintaining a focus on sustaining our local, regional and national communities.
In our latest edition of CANVAS, and within this context, we talk to Tim Wates, Director of The Wates Group, one of the largest private family-owned construction, development and property services companies in the UK. Tim reflects on why and how the business has prospered for 120 years and looks set to still be going strong (and getting more diverse) into the fifth generation.