As at March 2014, there were an estimated 335,015 private sector enterprises operating in Scotland - a decrease of 2.4% since March 2013. This is the first annual decrease in total business stock since 2006.
The number of registered private sector enterprises (those registered for VAT and/or PAYE) increased, however, up by 4.0% over the year to March 2014. There are now more registered private sector enterprises operating in Scotland than at any other time in the current series (which goes back to 2000).
Between 2000 and 2014, the total number of private sector enterprises has increased by an estimated 39.6% (95,045 enterprises). As shown in Chart 2 below this increase has been driven by an increase in the smallest unregistered enterprises – the number of unregistered enterprises in Scotland has increased by 84.5% since 2000 (up from 91,305 in 2000 to 168,490 in 2014). However, the number of registered enterprises increased between 2000 and 2014 also, from 148,665 to 166,525 (a 12.0% increase) - 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 2014
The decrease in the total number of private sector enterprises between 2013 and 2014 has been caused by a fall in the number of unregistered enterprises (the smallest businesses that have an annual turnover below the VAT threshold of £79,000 and do not have employees). The number of unregistered businesses decreased from 183,055 in 2013 to 168,490 in 2014 - a decrease of 14,565 enterprises (-8.0%).
Having fallen between 2009 and 2011, the number of registered enterprises has increased for the third year in succession. Between 2013 and 2014, registered private sector enterprises rose from 160,050 to 166,525. This rise in registered enterprises over the latest year was driven by an increase in the number of small (0 to 49 employees) registered enterprises – up 4.1% (6,370 enterprises) between 2013 and 2014.
The number of medium-sized (50 to 249 employees) enterprises increased between 2013 and 2014 to 3,780 enterprises – representing an increase of 75 enterprises since 2013. There has been an increase of 430 enterprises since 2000 and the 2014 estimate is now higher than at any time since then.
The number of large (250 or more employees) enterprises also increased, to 2,295, between 2013 and 2014 – an increase of 25 since 2013 and an increase of 50 since 2000. The 2014 estimate is still lower than the large enterprise peak level of 2,345 enterprises experienced in 2001 and lower than the more recent high point of 2,315 large enterprises that were in operation in Scotland in 2009.