As at March 2017, there were an estimated 365,600 private sector enterprises operating in Scotland – a rise from 2016. This 2017 figure is the highest stock figure in the series back to 2000.
Between 2000 and 2017, the total number of private sector enterprises has increased by an estimated 52.4% (125,630 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 more than doubled since 2000 (up from 91,305 in 2000 to 189,200 in 2017). The number of registered enterprises has increased also – from 148,665 in 2000 to 176,400 in 2017 (an increase of 18.7%) - driven by a rise in the number of small (0 to 49 employees) registered enterprises.
Chart 2: Estimated number of private sector enterprises operating in Scotland, 2000 to 2017
Between 2016 and 2017, the total number of private sector businesses in Scotland increased by 11,110 businesses (3.1%). 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 180,500 in 2016 to 189,200 in 2017 – an increase of 8,700 businesses (4.8%).
The number of registered businesses (those registered for VAT and/or PAYE) increased over the latest year - from 173,995 businesses in 2016 to 176,400 business in 2017, a rise of 2,405 registered businesses (1.4%). With six years of sustained annual 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 1.5% (2,470 enterprises) between 2016 and 2017. Looking within the group of small registered enterprises, the number of registered enterprises without employees grew by 3.2% from 66,825 in 2016 to 68,940 in 2017, and the number of registered small employers (1-49 employees) increased by 0.4% from 100,885 in 2016 to 101,245 in 2017.
The number of medium-sized (50 to 249 employees) enterprises decreased between 2016 and 2017 to 3,855 enterprises – representing a decrease of 65 enterprises. There has been an increase of 505 medium-sized enterprises since 2000.
The number of large (250 or more employees) enterprises remains unchanged, as 2,365 in 2017. There has been an increase of 120 large-sized enterprises since 2000.
Following the recession, from mid-2008 to the end of 2009, there has been 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 a low of 44.3% in 2015. The latest figures for 2017 show that the large business share of private sector employment has decreased slightly over the latest year from 45.3% in 2016 to 45.0% in 2017.
The number of employers increased slightly, between 2016 and 2017, from 107,170 to 107,465 – representing an increase of 295 employers (0.3%). This takes the number of employers in Scotland to the highest level in the series (back to 2000).