Philip Acock, managing director of Fourayes – the UK’s number-one grower and processor of Bramley apples – is the current head of a family-owned business and he says that is something to be proud of
I read an article the other day about the German economy. I know, it’s about time I got a life, but part of it caught my eye. The widely admired success of the German economy is often attributed to its Mittelstand – medium-sized, family-owned businesses. I got thinking about the importance of family-owned businesses in the UK and what role they play in the economy here, whether they are large, medium or small businesses.
I’m proud to say that Fourayes is a family-owned business. The company was founded by my grandfather 60-odd years ago, then my father took over, and now I am the MD.
Fourayes is one of three million family-owned businesses in the UK and together we employ 75% more people than the entire public sector. How amazing is that?
The family-owned business sector here is also growing. It currently makes up a quarter of the UK’s GDP and has increased steadily over the past few years. That’s incredible when you consider the economic backdrop. So why is it that family-owned businesses do so well?
In my opinion, it is all about values. The commitment to pass something better on to future generations; a naturally long-term perspective, and a firm foundation in community engagement.
That not only makes sense in terms of family values, but it also makes business sense.
My grandfather was innovative and creative and, most importantly, he was passionate about his family. Most of us are passionate about our families so imagine how that works when you combine that with a passion for your business. It’s that extra ingredient that means you love what you do and take a personal pride in getting it right.
I believe we could do with more of that in the UK too. Family businesses in this country are of all sizes, and many go back a very long way. But we do have those common values, which the British economy desperately needs. Setting up and maintaining a business takes commitment and, all too often, that commitment to work is seen as taking time away from the family.
That needn’t be the case and I believe we would have a healthier economy if more people could combine their passion for their family with a passion for their work. We can make that change – and giving family businesses the recognition they deserve is a good place to start.