As a result, about fifty years after the end of the First World War, the stock of UK businesses was only marginally above the level reported in 1921. Indeed, some estimates indicate it could have even been slightly lower. During the same period, the population increased by 25% and national output in real terms had increased three-fold, demonstrating the growing role of larger firms.
Interest in the contribution of small firms to the economy grew again during the 1960s and 1970s, supported by higher incomes and a growing service sector, as well as technological change. Political interest in small firms also grew, leading to a succession of government inquiries and initiatives, particularly the Bolton Committee, 1969-71. The first - and so far only - Cabinet Minister for small firms was appointed in 1977 and by the end of 1979 there were about 1.9 million registered business is the UK.
The upward trend in business numbers has continued ever since while interest in entrepreneurship has also revived. As in the war years a century ago, much of the revival has come from the growth in self-employment rather than large companies. It is estimated that there are currently in the region of 4.9 million businesses in the UK.
Of these, about 300 firms active in the UK today were first established between 1914 and 1918 including BPB plc, Westland Aviation, A. F. Blakemore (SPAR wholesalers), UBM (United Newspapers) and Crookes Healthcare.