Gary Lynch, chief executive of GS1 UK
Gary Lynch, chief executive of GS1 UK

Scottish entrepreneurs boosting British business

There has been a 61% increase in the number of Scottish businesses joining barcode organisation GS1 UK to trade, according to the not-for-profit global standards organisation.

Typically, companies join GS1 UK for access to standardised barcodes, allowing them to trade efficiently and opening the door to national and international markets via marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon as well as traditional retailers such as Tesco and John Lewis.

Over the last 12 months, the number of businesses joining GS1 UK rose by 46% across the UK.  Scotland saw the fastest growth of any home nation (61%), ahead of England (47%), and comfortably outstripping Wales (7%).

Gary Lynch, chief executive of GS1 UK, said: Businesses source barcodes from us when they need to identify, trade and track products, helping them save time and money in their supply chain.  So a surge in demand for our services – across the country but with some notable hotspots –can tell us a great deal about differences in the economy across the United Kingdom and growth in domestic and international trade.  The origins behind this surge in entrepreneurship across the country include changing employment demographics and the need for more flexibility, as well as facilitators such as lower barriers to entry due to the emergences of marketplaces.  And this is not a blip.  Between 2008 and 2014, the level of self-employment in the UK increased from 3.8 million to 4.6 million.”

Four industries stood out, with 51% of the new joiners in Scotland coming from: Drinks & Beverages, Apparel, Food & Grocery, and Health & Beauty.  Health & Beauty made up 8% of the Scottish new joiners, with the Drinks industry (both alcoholic or non-alcoholic) 13% and 14% in Apparel – including clothing, footwear, accessories.  16% of new joiners were from Food & Grocery.

Marketplaces dominated the business models for members in the Apparel sector with 71% selling via Google, eBay, and Amazon.  Turnover among joiners from the Food & Grocery industry averaged at £8,592,000. While turnover among joiners in Drinks & Beverages averaged just £403,000, new members ranged from a small business at its launch stage producing soft drinks – to a privately-owned distillery established in 1967.

Gary Lynch said: Our members tell us there have been some positive developments for trade and entrepreneurship in Scotland – from the £1.1bn Edinburgh City Region Deal package to the Scottish Government’s launch of a £4m fund to attract the world’s brightest entrepreneurs to Scotland and help them develop their ideas for businesses.  These are adding to the sense of confidence and purpose across the country.”