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Food and drink sectors dominate Scotland’s top 100 private companies list



Neil McInnes – Head of corporate finance at Grant Thornton in Scotland

Grant Thornton UK LLP has released its Scotland Limited Report 2024, spotlighting the Top 100 private limited companies in Scotland and delving into the factors behind their dynamic success.

This year’s report is particularly significant as it represents the first full year of results in a post-COVID-19 landscape.

The report highlights the various achievements and contributions the Top 100 have made to the Scottish economy and provides key data for economic trends across energy, manufacturing and engineering, real estate, food and beverages and other core sectors. The report also analyses M&A activity, debt levels, export figures, and regional and international trends, offering detailed insights into the Scottish business landscape.

Food and drink companies dominate the list (17), with the majority based in the West – the region that is home to over half (51) of the Top 100 companies. The report has also seen a record 27 new entrants in total this year, which may be a combination of businesses bouncing back from a difficult trading period and natural progression up the ranks as a result of ongoing success.

The report also highlights several standout performers in the energy sector, including NEO Energy which has seen meteoric rise from placing 26th last year to securing the new number one spot. One of the fastest growing companies behind NEO Energy is an independent family business, CCL Components, which supplies solar energy equipment. The 2024 report also sees the return of the technology sector being represented in the Top 100, with Petroleum Experts (80) earning their place.

Unsurprisingly, this year’s report has also seen the return of businesses that had been heavily impacted by the pandemic with Edinburgh Airport (29), The Scotsman Group (47) and Apex Hotels (87) featuring this year. All three had previously dropped out of the Top 100 in the 2022 report due to their respective industries facing challenges.

Neil McInnes, partner and head of corporate finance for Grant Thornton in Scotland, said: “Despite a complex backdrop, our Scotland Limited 2024 report paints an incredibly positive picture as our largest privately held companies continue to capitalise on overseas trade opportunities and outperform the wider economy.

“We have seen a significant upturn in profitability and revenue in this report, and our Top 100 have continued to build, grow and innovate across the industries that underpin the Scottish economy.

“Our list shows our country’s strength in different sectors and disciplines, spanning 11 industries across all corners of the country, from private equity-backed, global data analytics businesses such as Wood Mackenzie, to family-run domestic businesses like McQueens Dairies.

“Although there are longstanding regional nuances and significant revenue ranges within our Top 100, they have all shown agility, market growth and made strategic decisions that have seen them perform strongly in a challenging environment.

“Each of these leading private companies continue to play a crucial role in the Scottish economy as a whole and have paved the way for a strong market recovery in the coming years.”

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