Family businesses 'equate to 328,000 private sector jobs in Northern Ireland'

Pictured at the National Family Business Day ‘Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast’ are (from left) Sam Davidson, Group HR director at Henderson Group; Dr Ian Smyth, Ulster University Business School; and Darren McDowell, senior partner at Harbinson Mulholland

FAMILY businesses now represent 57 per cent of all private sector employment in Northern Ireland, equating to 328,000 jobs, according to accountants Harbinson Mulholland.

“That is a mind-blowing number and underlines the incredibly important role of family businesses in the local economy,” the firm's senior partner Darren McDowell said.

He was speaking at an NI Family Business Forum ‘Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast' event in the Culloden to celebrate National Family Business Day, which included a talk from Sam Davidson, HR director at the Henderson Group, one of the north's largest privately owned employers with 4,300 staff.

Mr McDowell added: “National Family Business Day is a great way for the community to work as one voice in raising the profile of the sector, showcasing the diversity of family firms, the history and heritage that are the very essence of family firms and to highlight the continued innovation, investment and entrepreneurship demonstrated by family businesses, young and old, to remain relevant as a business today.

“This has not been a normal year, and with so much uncertainty and implications for business created by the global pandemic, never has there been a better time suited to bring everyone together.

“In a recent ‘State of the Nation' survey conducted by the Institute of Family Business, the sector in the UK as a whole contributes 29 per cent to GDP, creating 14 million jobs.

“The report concludes that the heart of the local economic recovery will be built on renewal and this needs to come on the back of what the firms represented here today see the as the success of their business. The key to this success is the people we work for and with, and it is this culture that binds the people together.

“Now more than ever we need to nourish protect, trust, and invest in our staff, for if the last 18 months has taught us anything, it is that we are resilient, but not indestructible and without our staff, colleagues, and family members many of our businesses just wouldn't exist,” said Darren.

As well as an interview with Sam Davidson from Henderson Group, guests were also given a talk about mental health in the workplace from Action Mental Health and the importance in investing in staff health and wellbeing from Kingsbridge Private Hospital.

The NI Family Business Forum was established five years ago. In that time, it has been supported by academic partner Ulster University Business School working together to build a solid reputation and track record of helping family firms maximise financial performance while balancing commercial challenges and family obligations.

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