Bristol family firms expecting good things

Bristol family firms expecting good things as they reveal ambitious plans for growth

Bristol and South West based family firms are positive about the next 12-months for their business and the region’s economy, but see the ongoing skills challenge and financial institutions’ reticence to provide funding as major threats to their ambitious plans for growth.

Family businesses from the food, healthcare, science, locomotive, leisure, packaging, waste management and construction sectors met at Bristol’s Tortworth Court Hotel at an event hosted by the family business sector’s leading independent support and consultancy organisation, Families in Business (FiB).

Despite uncertainty around Brexit and the UK economy, the family businesses taking part in discussions at the event revealed they are expecting good things over the coming months, with a desire to invest in growing the business, despite economic uncertainty in the wake of the EU Referendum.

However, they feel that banks are still closed to supporting private enterprise or providing capital to aid growth, but said that this is countered by the ability to act quickly that goes hand-in-hand with being a family business so are agile, able to seize opportunities, and take and act on decisions quickly.

CEO of FiB, Dani Saveker, comments: “Whilst issues around succession were evident for the majority of the family businesses taking part, there were many inspirational, personal accounts of individuals’ journeys and how they came to be part of their family’s business. For many, this is often not a first choice, and support and networks are seen as vital to help them fulfil the role or challenges they face at its helm, and share experiences and worries with their peers.

“Ambition and positivity amongst the family firms at the event was tangible, but there was strong evidence this brings other personal and business challenges – from funding for and capacity to handle growth, reluctance of the incumbent generation to let go of the day-to-day running of the business, to a passion that the business will remain family-owned, and concern that the right individuals are in place and in the right role.”

Amongst the main findings:

  • The loss of business’ founding family member carries a huge personal and professional impact for surviving family members as well as the family firm, and protecting the business and family should not be overlooked but shareholders agreements and Wills must be utilised.
  • The generation leading the business is fearful of letting down previous generations, but if handled positively these emotions can be motivational and channeled to herald a new, confident and successful new chapter for the family firm.
  • Family firms are committed to bettering themselves and their leaders, becoming the very best possible business men and women, and learning from the lessons learned during 2008.
  • Family businesses are focused on working hard to grow over the coming 12 months, through building productivity, great products, and developing improved structures and systems.
  • Family businesses are committed to looking after their staff well, so consider the National Living Wage a burden for the business.
  • Finding and retaining the talent and skills to support growth remains a challenge.

The event raised £260 for Bristol charity Above & Beyond, which raises funds to make a difference to the care of some 500,000 patients, their families and friends, at Bristol’s city centre hospitals each year, and the 8,000 NHS staff who care for them.

The event was supported by solicitors Veale Wasborough Vizards, Close Brothers Asset Management and accountancy firm Mazars LLP.

Families in Business (FiB) is the specialist division of the Shirlaws Group, and focuses on dynamics and relationships and how they impact family and privately owned enterprises.


It is the UK’s only neutral organisation run solely for family businesses, privately-owned enterprises and entrepreneurs, and has a team of professionals with on-the-job, first-hand experience of working in a family business. It operates across the UK and increasingly worldwide via a rapidly growing network of offices, to provide support, consultancy and membership to family firms and their owners.