Spanish Family Firms

Family firms dominate the Spanish economy - for better and worse

Percentage of businesses in Spain which were family-owned in 2013, by Autonomous Region. 

Percentage of businesses in Spain which were family-owned in 2013, by Autonomous Region. 

Family businesses are usually said to account for about 80% of all companies in most major economies, but in Spain the numbers are higher. The graphic above shows the percentages of businesses which are family-owned in each of the country's autonomous regions in 2013, reaching an amazing 94.3% in Castille-La Mancha. 

The figure is over 90% in eight other regions, and over 80% in all of them. 

(The source for all the information in this story is a report called La Empresa Familiar en España, published by Spain's Instituto de la Empresa Familiar.) 

True, a lot of them are small, and 90% of all "microcompanies" are family-owned, but 79.5% of larger ones are too: 

Percentage of smaller companies that are family owned

Percentage of larger companies that are family owned

Family firms accounted for 55% of gross value added in 2013, and if you strip out the largest firms, 66%. 

The report highlights some of the weaknesses of family firms, which were more likely than non-family firms to go out of business during the downturn that hit Spain hard after the financial crisis of 2007/8. 

Percentage of firms that went out of business in Spain between 2007 and 2013.

This reached frightening levels among SMEs - almost a fifth of them went bust. 

Percentage of firms that went out of business 2007-2013, grouped according to their turnover.

But the research also points to one of the strengths of family-owned businesses. Despite many of them going out of business, family firms still accounted for a phenomenal amount of employment in Spain by 2013. The figure reached 86% in Galicia, and was over 80% in seven other regions. 

Percentage of private sector employment provided by family-owned firms in Spain, by Autonomous Region. 

Percentage of private sector employment provided by family-owned firms in Spain, by Autonomous Region. 

Even more interesting is the statistic about the number of employees firms have, compared to their revenues, which family firms actually increased between 2007 and 2013.

Number of employees for each €1m in turnover

You could argue that their relatively high staff-numbers is a result of family firms being inefficient, and that more ruthless non-family firms do more with less.

But in a country which has seen catastrophic levels of unemployment, reaching over 25% in 2013, you might also argue that this type of inefficiency is no bad thing. 

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