25/07/2013 12:06 BST | Updated 22/09/2013 06:12 BST

The Next Big Thing? Family Fortunes (Feat. Morrow's)

Most of us might shirk at the idea of getting involved in a family business. The prospect of life within a parent's business empire doesn't exactly fill the mind with connotations of financial independence, social freedom and making your own way in the world. Just look what happened when Darth Vader tried to persuade Luke to join the dark side...

But dig a little deeper and it soon becomes clear that family businesses are not only a major part of the UK's economy, but many are indeed thriving, despite the endless economic woes. Morrow's is a brilliant example of a start-up business that has capitalised on the heritage and story behind their family brand - but more on them in a bit.


In 2011, a report by Oxford Economics revealed that family businesses were employing more than nine million people and generated revenues of £1.1trillion that year. One great example is Warburtons, the bakery firm with a £500million annual turnover. Jonathan, Ross and Brett Warburton are the fifth generation of the family to run the 135-year-old Bolton-based business. Everything about the company shouts family - even their marketing ("From our family to yours"). And it's working.

The recession, it seems, has increased the desirability of joining, continuing (or even restarting) a family-run business, which can often escape problems around financing, leadership and decision-making (even if arguments may get a little bit more heated). So can tradition, family ties and heritage still resonate with the UK's young entrepreneurs?

Philip Morrow is proof that it can. He re-established his family's outfitters two years ago and is now the fourth generation selling menswear under the Morrow's name. Based in Liverpool, he currently sells a range of socks consisting of 20 styles (he had an interest in 'jazzy socks' since he was a teenager), which are manufactured in England - a decision inspired by a strong sense of what his Grandparents would have wanted.


"I wanted to take advantage of the history of the brand", Philip explains. "Customers are always interested in the fact that it is a resurrected business and it has a great story behind it. My Great Grandfather came over from Ireland in 1899 when he was only 16. He opened his first shop in 1912 and by 1932 was running his business through 12 premises throughout the city. I find it inspiring."

Each style has been named after close friends, business partners and family members who have played a significant role in Philip's life or helped him with his business - a nice touch. "Whether it's advice, a helping hand or maybe an investment, you'd be surprised just how eager people are to lend their support to new businesses", Philip continues. "The support I have received from family, friends, business mentors and organisations has been so important. It has been necessary to keep my start-up costs to an absolute minimum and so I have relied on their support as models, photographers, designers and helping with events. I was also very lucky to be involved with StartUp Britain when they first launched. Through them, I've had the opportunity to trade from three pop-up shops, which have all been very successful".


Philip now has major new plans to try and supply schools and institutions with their alumni colours. As a huge fan of stripy socks, intrigue got the better of me, so I bought a pair. And I have to say, I love them (I'm angling for a future pair to be called 'Alex').

Alex Perry works at John Doe - a PR company that marries brands with culture.