As at March 2016, there were an estimated 350,410 private sector enterprises operating in Scotland - a fall from 2015 but the 2016 business count is still relatively high (with it being the second highest figure in the series back to 2000).
Between 2000 and 2016, the total number of private sector enterprises has increased by an estimated 46.0% (+110,440 enterprises). As shown in Chart 2 below this increase has been driven by a rise in the smallest unregistered enterprises – the number of unregistered enterprises in Scotland has increased by 93.2% since 2000 (up from 91,305 in 2000 to 176,420 in 2016). However, the number of registered enterprises increased also - from 148,665 in 2000 to 173,995 in 2016 (an increase of 17.0%) - driven by an increase in the number of small (0 to 49 employees) registered enterprises.
Chart 2: Estimated number of private sector enterprises operating in Scotland, 2000 to 2016
Between 2015 and 2016, the total number of private sector businesses in Scotland dropped by 10,935 businesses (-3.0%). This follows an increase in the previous annual period.
The decrease over the latest year was driven by a fall in the number of unregistered businesses. The number of unregistered businesses decreased from 191,010 in 2015 to 176,420 in 2016 – a decrease of 14,590 businesses (-7.6%).
The number of registered businesses (those registered for VAT and/or PAYE) increased over the latest year - from 170,335 businesses in 2015 to 173,995 business in 2016, a rise of 3,660 registered businesses (+2.1%). With five years of sustained growth, this takes the number of registered businesses to a new series high.
This rise in registered enterprises over the latest year was driven by an increase in the number of small (0 to 49 employees) enterprises – up 2.2% (+3,540 enterprises) between 2015 and 2016. Looking within the group of small registered enterprises, the number of registered enterprises without employees grew by 6.0% from 63,035 in 2015 to 66,825 in 2016 but the number of registered small employers (1-49 employees) decreased by 0.2% from 101,135 in 2015 to 100,885 in 2016.
The number of medium-sized (50 to 249 employees) enterprises increased, between 2015 and 2016, to 3,920 enterprises – representing an increase of 50 enterprises. There has been an increase of 570 medium-sized enterprises since 2000 and the 2016 estimate is now higher than at any time since then.
The number of large (250 or more employees) enterprises also increased, over the latest year, to 2,365 - an increase of 70 since 2015. There has been an increase of 120 large-sized enterprises since 2000 and the 2016 estimate is now higher than at any time since then.
Following the recession there was a slight shift in employment from large businesses (250+ employees) to small businesses – with large businesses accounting for 47.1% of private sector employment in 2010 compared to 44.4% in 2015. However, these latest figures for 2016 show that the large business share of private sector employment has increased over the last year to 45.4%.
The number of employers decreased slightly, between 2015 and 2016, to 107,170 – representing a decrease of 130 employers (-0.1%).