Scotland’s family business leaders to address challenges facing the sector

By Press Office

Scotland’s family business leaders will gather at Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh on Thursday 26th May to discuss some of the key challenges facing family firms across the country.

Led by Family Business United Scotland, the ‘Family & Business Strategy - Governance and Succession’event will provide an insight into how successful family firms understand how to benefit from the right resources to fulfil their plans, how business strategy and family strategy fit together, approaches to educating the next generation into the business, as well as different governance systems and how they impact the future of the business and the family.

The audience will include a wide network of family business owners, next generation family members, and non-family senior managers and directors within family firms.

Presenters and speakers will include Dr Claire Seaman (Reader in Enterprise and Family Business at QMU); Alastair Macphie (Chairman & CEO of Macphie); Dr James Cunningham (Lecturer in management at Aberdeen Business School) and Sofia di Belmonte (Managing Director of award winning Punta Licosa Ltd).

Paul Andrews, Managing Director of Family Business United Scotland (FBUS) explains more: “FBU Scotland was set up to champion the family business sector in Scotland, giving it a voice, creating a community of like-minded organisations to share ideas and network and to provide education that is not otherwise available. This event in association with QMU and Turcan Connell is the second in a series of educational events that have been designed to provide opportunities for Scottish family firms to learn from their peers, share insights and best practice and discuss topics that are of interest. This event is all about governance and succession, two of the key challenges that face family firms across the globe, not just in Scotland.

“Family businesses are the very essence of what Scotland is all about from the likes of household names such as Tunnocks, Arnold Clark, Macsween, Walkers and Baxters to the independently owner retailers and garden centres across the country. Collectively they represent the core of the Scottish economy, provide jobs, revenue and a real sense of community and FBU Scotland was created to give them the support and recognition that we believe they truly deserve.”

“Tom Craig, Chairman of the FBUS Advisory Board, added: “This is another major step in realising our vision of an Education Pathway designed for the special needs of family companies.”

Dr Claire Seaman, Reader in Enterprise & Family Business at QMU, said: “By supporting events like this, QMU is continuing to engage and work with Scotland’s SME and family business policy makers and practitioners to explore ways of improving the growth and sustainability of this vital sector.

“In Scotland, SMEs account for 99.3% of all private sector enterprises and 63% of these are family businesses. Our research suggests that family businesses are crying out for the right kind of support to help them succeed across the generations. If we want to change thinking and practice and improve business succession across these businesses, we need an integrated approach to learning, research and influencing policy.”

Dr James Cunningham, Lecturer in management at Aberdeen Business School, said: “Small family businesses offer much to the Scottish economy; however they also make a critical contribution to society’s goals more generally. It is important that we consider sustainability in family businesses, if they are to continue to play a positive role in shaping the business environment.”

Sofia di Belmonte, Managing Director Punta Licosa Ltd, added: “With over 200,000 family businesses in Scotland, many of which are SMEs, it is necessary that there is a forum where their voices are heard, and where experiences can be shared. The importance of the family business to the Scottish economy has been ignored for too long.”

Tickets are ONLY available to family business owners, next generation family members, non-family senior managers and directors within family firms. Please note that this course is NOT available to professional advisers.

For more information contact Dr Claire Seaman, Reader in Enterprise & Family Business at QMU, E:, T: 0131 474 0000

Notes to Editor

For further media information contact Jonathan Perkins, Press and PR Officer, E: T: 0131 474 0000.

Paul Andrews, Managing Director of Family Business United Scotland

Paul Andrews has worked with family firms in various capacities for the past 20 years and continues to be an ambassador for the sector through the award-winning magazine and resource centre. Learn more on the Family Business United website.

Alastair Macphie, Chairman & CEO, Macphie

Alastair Macphie began his career in the most northerly store of the Hudson Bay Company in the frozen Artic of Canada. He returned to the UK to work at General Foods in a series of retail and foodservice sales roles. In the late 1987 Alastair returned to Scotland, heading up the Export Division at Macphie, and subsequently won the Queen’s Award for Export 1994. He took over as Managing Director in 1995, with a turnover of £15 million. In 1997, he became Chief Executive and inherited the 2,000 acre Glenbervie Estate, Home Farm and Glenbervie Aberdeen Angus. Under his leadership, Macphie has grown to become the UK’s leading family-owned food ingredients manufacturer with a turnover of £50 million with 280 staff. As a farmer, land-owner and industrialist, he is proud of his family’s farming history and passionate about the environment and the need to act responsibly. He lives with his wife and two children in Glenbervie House, which has been in the family for over 700 years.

Dr James Cunningham, Lecturer in management at Aberdeen Business School

Dr James Cunningham is a lecturer in management at the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. He teaches on strategy and business development, specialising in small family firms and entrepreneurship. During his career he has been involved in consultation and the teaching of management for many institutions, including: Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg, Germany and Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. He gained a PhD in family business from Queen Margaret in 2013. His current work focuses on knowledge sharing within small family firms and the role of social status in the promotion of entrepreneurial activity. He has a particular interest in the identity and role of non-family members within family businesses.

Sofia di Belmonte, Managing Director Punta Licosa Ltd

Sofia Bruce di Belmonte is Managing Director of award winning Punta Licosa Ltd, her family’s diversified hospitality and agricultural produce business. She currently acts as a consultant to family businesses specializing in governance and succession management.

She was Head of Retail for The National Trust for Scotland and the National Galleries of Scotland. After leaving University she spent 4 years as an Investment Banker for Credit Suisse in London. She has an MBA from Queen Margaret University in Hospitality Management, and an MA in Economics and Economic History from Edinburgh University. She lives in Edinburgh with her husband and two sons.

In 2015 she joined Family Business United as an Ambassador. She is a keen supporter of family businesses, and recognises the different pressures that being a family business has on everyday management, as well as the desire to maintain a business ‘in the family’.

Queen Margaret University

QMU has announced plans to launch two new postgraduate study programmes in Family Business in 2016.Following five years of industry consultation with organisations such as Scottish Family Business Association, Family Business United and a range of family-run Scottish businesses, the University has developed a new MSc International Management & Leadership with Family & Smaller Enterprise (subject to validation) and a new MBA Family & Smaller Enterprise (subject to validation), to meet a growing demand.

The two specialist programmes will offer experienced business professionals, as well as recent business graduates and those who are returning to the family business after studying for an unrelated degree, greater insight into the value, practice and function of family businesses. Topics will include family business succession, governance, behavioural finance and risk.

  • International Management and Leadership with Family and Smaller Enterprise (subject to validation)
  • MBA Family and Smaller Enterprise (subject to validation)

For more information contact Dr Claire Seaman, Reader in Enterprise & Family Business at QMU, E:, T: 0131 474 0000.

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries or to access one of our experts.

Show Contacts