As at March 2015, there were an estimated 361,345 private sector enterprises operating in Scotland - the highest figure since the time series began (in 2000).
Between 2000 and 2015, the total number of private sector enterprises has increased by an estimated 50.6% (+121,375 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 more than doubled since 2000 (up from 91,305 in 2000 to 191,010 in 2015). The number of registered enterprises increased between 2000 and 2015 also, from 148,665 to 170,335 (a 14.6% 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 2015
Between 2014 and 2015, the total number of private sector businesses in Scotland grew by 26,090 businesses (+7.8%). This follows a decrease in the previous annual period.
The increase over the latest year was driven by a rise in the number of unregistered businesses. The number of unregistered businesses increased from 168,730 in 2014 to 191,010 in 2015 – an increase of 22,280 businesses (+13.2%). Following a dip between 2013 and 2014, the increase between 2014 and 2015 takes the unregistered business count to the highest level in the series.
The number of registered businesses (those registered for VAT and/or PAYE) increased also - from 166,525 businesses in 2014 to 170,335 business in 2015, a rise of 3,810 registered businesses (+2.3%). With four 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 2.3% (+3,720 enterprises) between 2014 and 2015. Looking within the group of small registered enterprises, the number of registered enterprises without employees grew by 3.1% from 61,135 in 2014 to 63,035 in 2015 and the number of registered small employers (1-49 employees) increased by 1.8% from 99,315 in 2014 to 101,135 in 2015.
The number of medium-sized (50 to 249 employees) enterprises increased, between 2014 and 2015, to 3,870 enterprises – representing an increase of 90 enterprises. There has been an increase of 520 medium-sized enterprises since 2000 and the 2015 estimate is now higher than at any time since 2000.
The number of large (250 or more employees) enterprises was unchanged over the latest year, remaining at 2,295 enterprises. The 2015 estimate is still lower than the large enterprise peak level of 2,345 enterprises experienced in 2001.
Since the recession, there has been a slight shift in employment from large businesses (250+ employees) to small businesses – and this in turn is reflected in the record number of businesses. In 2015, large businesses accounted for 44.4% of private sector employment, compared to 47.1% in 2010.
The number of employers increased, between 2014 and 2015, to 107,300 – representing an increase of 1,910 employers (+1.8%). There has been an increase of 13,485 employers (+14.4%) since 2000 and the 2015 estimate is now higher than at any time since 2000.