Businesses in Scotland 2016

A National Statistics Publication for Scotland.

Scotland’s total business stock falls but the registered business stock continues to grow.

Scotland’s Chief Statistician today released Businesses in Scotland 2016.

The main findings are:

There were 350,410 private sector businesses operating in Scotland as at March 2016 - a decrease of 3.0 per cent since March 2015.

The decrease over the latest year is as a result of a fall in the number of unregistered businesses, the smallest sole traders and partnerships that are not registered for VAT/PAYE. Unregistered businesses are down by 7.6 per cent from 191,010 in 2015 to 176,420 in 2016.

However, the number of registered businesses has increased by 2.1 per cent from 170,335 in 2015 to 173,995 in 2016. The number of registered businesses in Scotland is at its highest level in the series back to 2000. 

As at March 2016, there were 348,045 Small and Medium-sized Enterprises operating in Scotland, providing an estimated 1.2 million jobs. SMEs accounted for 99.3 per cent of all private sector enterprises and accounted for 54.6 per cent of private sector employment and 40.5 per cent of private sector turnover.

The figures released today were produced in accordance with professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.


Unregistered enterprises are micro businesses which consist of only a sole trader or partners. Unregistered enterprises do not employ others and have an annual turnover below the VAT threshold (£82,000 as at March 2016).

The estimates include businesses that operate in Scotland irrespective of whether their main UK base is in Scotland or elsewhere. Businesses are classified by employee size bands based on the number of their total UK employees. 

The full statistical publication is available at

This publication contains statistics on the number of enterprises (businesses) operating in Scotland. Statistics are provided by industry, business size, local authority area, urban/rural area and country of ownership.

Further information on Business and Enterprise statistics within Scotland can be accessed at:

Official statistics are produced in accordance with professional standards – more information on the standards of official statistics in Scotland can be accessed at:

Lisa McDonald | Head of Economy and Finance Media Team 

0131 244 2682


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