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Family-run retail businesses report top sales

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By Gemma Taylor -

A recent survey of family-owned businesses reveals that retailers are leading the way with growing sales figures.

The top family-owned firms have seen an increase in sales over the last year, with total trading rising 10.2 per cent annually, according to the Institute for Family Business (IFB).

In spite of the economic struggle faced by retailers, the annual survey conducted by the institute, which incorporates figures for all businesses including traditional and online shops, found that total sales for the top ten family-run businesses reached £35.5 billion in 2010.

Associated British Foods (ABF), Primark’s parent company, topped the table with reported sales of £10.2 billion. Owned by the Weston family through holding company Wittington Investments, which counts luxury food store Fortnum & Mason and Heals in its portfolio, the group was also the top entry in the previous year’s standings.

Last month Primark reported double digit sales growth for the last three quarters of trading, with revenues in the 40 weeks to June 25th 2011 rising by 13 per cent compared to the same period last year, up 14 per cent at constant currencies.

IFB Director General Grant Gordon said: “The UK has seen difficult trading conditions in the last year, but there have been some remarkable success stories among the UK’s top family businesses.

“With family firms contributing almost one-third of our GDP the family business sector is becoming an increasingly important part of the UK’s future economic growth.”

The results come at a difficult time for retailers, many of which are facing clean-up costs following criminal damage as a result of the recent UK riots. It has been estimated that the clean up will cost around £141 million in total as many well-known and independent shops fell victim to violence and looting.

Reeves Furniture, a 140-year-old family-owned business in Croydon, was burned to the ground in an arson attack at the height of the violence earlier this month.

Speaking to the BBC shortly after the attack, owner Trevor Reeves showed the spirit that lies within many family-run enterprises, saying: “We have been through two world wars and we are still here. There must be something in the genetic make-up. We are going to fight to rebuild this.”

While many traditional retailers are struggling to cope with decreasing customer numbers amid low consumer confidence, those with online strategies are faring comparatively well, a point highlighted by the inclusion of Shop Direct Group (SDG) as a new entry in the IFB list.

Owner of Littlewoods, Kays and Woolworths.co.uk and founded by the Barclay brothers, the online and home shopping retailer has expanded considerably since it began life in the 1980s.

Commenting on the brand’s entry at number ten in the survey and its dedication to its growing portfolio, an SDG spokesman said: “As the UK’s largest online and home shopping company, Shop Direct Group will always seek to grow our business responsibly.”

Published on Monday 22 August by Editorial Assistant

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