While the number of businesses in Scotland is increasing, accountants and business advisers BDO LLP says these are mainly one-man operations, and more should be done to retain medium and large firms.

According to the latest statistics analysis from the firm, many medium and large companies have seen either static or minimal growth.

Between March 2014 and March 2015, the number of companies with more than 250 employees did not change, at 2,295. The number of these firms peaked at 2,345 in 2001, and were at the lowest in 2011 when they fell to 2,230. As there is only a 115 enterprise difference from the bottom to the top, BDO says this shows a “fairly static” number.

These firms generated 60.1% of total Scottish turnover, or £161,810million, and employed 934,900 people – or 44.3% of the total workforce. The accountants say growth in this size of business is “essential for the future of Scotland.”

By comparison, the number of businesses with 50-249 employees rose by 2.4%, and those employing 49 or fewer rose by 1.8%.

However the largest growth, of 10.5%, occurred in the “0 employees” band, which had 254,045 firms employing 284,045 members of staff, and generating £12,311million.

Martin Gill, head of BDO LLP in Scotland, said: “I hope that we are creating more entrepreneurs but we need to ensure that Scotland attracts and maintains its large scale employers and revenue generators. Many of these are multinational firms and have options to locate elsewhere.

“The mid-market is a jewel in Scotland’s economic crown. It should get more support from government in order help medium-sized firms become the big businesses of tomorrow. Support could come in the form of using long term lending trusts to encourage investment in mid-market businesses; zero VAT for supplies to exporters; and reducing the overseas tax barriers for UK exporters opening a new branch or subsidiary overseas.

“If you take Aberdeen city for example. You have just 240 enterprises in primary industries (which includes oil and gas) but employing 28,480 people (18.9% of all people in the city) and with a turnover of £26,001million (58.7% of the city’s annual turnover).

“The loss of any of these larger businesses will have an impact on both Aberdeen and the wider Scottish economy and the current figures only run up until March of this year missing some of the continued impact of lower oil prices. The turnover for these businesses alone in Aberdeen accounts for 9.9% of the total Scottish turnover in a year.

“We must ensure we have a Scottish economy which is dynamic and flexible and which is open to new developments in whatever sector.

“Sustaining medium and larger sized businesses in Scotland is essential both for employment and for maintaining GDP. The growth of small businesses is essential but there is a need to monitor the Scottish economy as a whole and keep a balance between the largest and smallest businesses in our country.”

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