UK Family Business Survey

Welcome to the 8th PwC Family Business Survey. We’ve spoken to firms approaching their first generational transition, and those that can measure their longevity in centuries. We’ve talked to founders, next gens, and professional CEOs. We discussed global megatrends such as digital and globalisation, and the challenges of ‘keeping it in the family’.

The sector is bullish about the future with 93% expecting to grow and 18% expecting to grow quickly and aggressively.

Despite the relatively steady outlook, growth forecasts could be curtailed by an organisation’s lack of strategic planning rather than by economic or other external factors.

In this year's survey, many of the issues facing family business come back to a lack of strategic planning – the ‘missing middle’ – namely having a strategic plan that links where the business is now to the long-term and where it could be. Not only is it limiting their ambition to expand and grow, and wider contribution to economies, but it could expose them to additional risk they have not effectively planned for.


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Family firms can struggle to develop medium-term strategic plans that link their immediate business goals with the long-term ambitions of both the family and the business. This has implications in areas like investment in innovation, and in obtaining finance for growth. What can your firm do to bridge the gap?

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We look at the full implications of the professionalisation agenda, from the firm, to the family, to the Board and the role of the CEO.

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A managed succession process can be a rallying point for the family, allowing it to reinvent itself in response to changing circumstances, but without a plan it is the most obvious ‘failure factor’ for the family firm.

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While the threat of digital disruption is being felt by Senior Executives, many family firms lack robust strategies for the digital age.

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Business growth and diversification, an increase in family size or the scale of the wealth are some of the reasons behind the growing layers of complexity wealthy families are facing. In order to tackle this complexity, a family may need to employ a person or a group of people to help them run and manage the administration of such matters.

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Case studies

From scrap metal to compostable wiping cloths: 125 years of history at Harrison Wipes

From scrap metal to compostable wiping cloths: 125 years of history at Harrison Wipes

In 2016, the Harrison Wipes family business celebrated its 125th anniversary. What started in Great Yarmouth in 1891 as a textile rag and scrap metal business is now one of the world’s leading suppliers of high-performance non-woven wipes. “Even a hundred years ago, we were an international business,” says Stephen Harrison, the current MD and great-grandson of the founder. “You only have to look at my great grandfather’s passport in 1925 to see that we were trading in countries as far away as Japan at that time.”

Contact us

Sian Steele
Family Business leader
Tel: +44 (0)122 355 2226

Clare Stirzaker
Family office leader
Tel: +44 (0)20 7804 2504