The Best of Scottish Business

From retail to energy and from drinks to publishing, a variety of industries make up Scotland's most profitable private businesses. We take a look at some of them below.

Arnold Clark Group

  • Year founded: 1954
  • Based in: Glasgow
  • Industry: Motor

Sir Arnold Clark opened his first car showroom on Glasgow’s Park Road in 1954 and the company now stands as the largest privately-owned business in Scotland with more than 8000 employees, 200 dealerships and around 2 million customers across the UK. The company reported record sales figures in 2015 with its turnover rising by 11.9% to £3.3 billion(i). At the pre-tax level, the company saw a lift in profits from £85.2 million in 2014 to £107.3 million in 2015(ii) and, while the company expects a more challenging year ahead, its reign as Scotland’s largest privately owned business looks set to continue for some time.

The Edrington Group

  • Year founded: 1961
  • Based in: Glasgow
  • Industry: Drinks

With its roots stretching back to mid-nineteenth century Glasgow, Edrington has grown to be a major player in the global drinks industry. The company produces some of the most well-known and best loved Scotch whiskies including The Famous Grouse, The Macallan and Highland Park, with its portfolio complimented by Brugel rum and Snow Leopard vodka. The Group has experienced significant international expansion in its recent history with it being the first Scottish whisky company to open an office in Shanghai, China before establishing market-leading positions in Russia, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong. Further to its development, 2014 saw Edrington Americas assume distribution of the Group’s brands across the U.S which contributed to pre-tax profits of £157.6 million in 2015(iii).

Wood Group

  • Year founded: 1982
  • Based in: Aberdeen
  • Industry: Energy

Originally formed as a ship repair and marine engineering firm serving the fishing fleets of Aberdeen, Wood Group used its expertise to translate into engineering and support services when oil and gas reserves were discovered in the North Sea during the 1970s. Today, Wood Group remains headquartered in Aberdeen and focuses on renewable energy services as well as continuing its work in the oil, gas and power generation industries. Despite pre-tax profits being down from 2014 levels, Wood Group’s finances still remain very healthy with the company reporting pre-tax profits of $156.3 million (£102 million) for the first six months of 2015(iv).


  • Year founded: 1955
  • Based in: Cumbernauld, Lanarkshire
  • Industry: Retail

Headquartered in Cumbernauld, the frozen food retailer began life as an Aberdeen-based meat processing operation in 1955. Following the acquisition of several rival businesses, the company expanded south of the border in the early 1990s and now has over 300 stores across the UK. 2014 saw the company’s revenues rise to £852 million, up 18 per cent year-on-year, with pre-tax profits climbing 38% to £21 million(v).

D.C. Thomson & Co

  • Year founded: 1884
  • Based in: Dundee
  • Industry: Publishing

£24.8 million to £30.1m in spite of falling circulation(vi). The Dundee-based company was formed in 1884 when David Coupar Thomson took charge of the family’s newspaper interests and re-established the firm as D.C. Thomson in 1905. Among the titles it publishes are The Sunday Post, the Beano and the People’s Friend, as well as a number of regional newspapers such as the Press & Journal in Aberdeen and The Courier in Dundee. The wider D.C. Thomson Group owns and operates a variety of companies outwith the publishing realm including My Family Club, a family finance website, and Find My Past, a genealogy website boasting 18 million registered users.


(i) “Arnold Clark sales motor to record £3.3bn”, The Scotsman, October 2015
(ii) “Arnold Clark pre tax profits surge 26% to £107 million”,, 7/10/15
(iii) Edrington Group Annual Report 2015
(iv) Wood Group interim results six months ended 30 June 2015
(v) Farmfoods hails 38pc profit boost”, The Telegraph, June 2015
(vi) “Bumper year for Beano’s owners as profits rise 20% in 2015”,, 7/1/16

This article has been provided to Bank of Scotland Private Banking by external/third party contributors and contains their views as at December 2015 and should not be relied upon as fact and could be proved wrong. The information and opinions may not be accurate after this date. The views expressed may not reflect the views of Bank of Scotland plc.

Bank of Scotland Private Banking assumes no responsibility for the content or any reliance upon the content of the third party websites detailed in this article.

The forecast of future figures or events is not a reliable guide to actual future figures or events and cannot be guaranteed.

Bank of Scotland plc. Registered office: The Mound, Edinburgh, EH1 1YZ. Registered in Scotland, no. SC327000. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under number 169628.

Become a client

For access to advice from a Private Banking and Advice Manager, you’ll need at least £250,000 in savings, investments and/or personal pensions and/or a sole annual income of at least £250,000.

Before we provide you with any services or products, we will explain and agree with you what advice can be given, the products and services this advice covers and any charges that will apply.

To arrange an appointment with one of our Private Banking and Advice Managers:

Book appointment

or call

0345 366 2727

Lines are open Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 17:00 (Tuesday and Thursday until 19:00) and Saturday from 09:00 to 13:00, excluding bank holidays. Calls may be recorded or monitored. Call charges may vary.