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From Berenberg Bank to Subway – family business birthdays for 2015

From Golden Jubilees to quincentennials – family businesses with big anniversaries in 2015
Credit: Press Association

Corporate anniversaries are a ripe for businesses to get nostalgic and celebrate the fact they’re still standing, so looking to the year ahead, CampdenFB has pulled together a list of family businesses around the world celebrating round numbers in 2015.

Perhaps most notably, Britain’s oldest business, 25th-generation R J Balson & Sons, is celebrating its quincentennial this year. Across the Atlantic, the US’s largest privately-owned company, Cargill, celebrates a milestone 150 years. To all those marking a special year in 2015, CampdenFB wishes you a happy anniversary.

Angels the Costumiers, UK (1840)
175 years old

Five years after Morris Angel opened his secondhand clothes shop in London’s Covent Garden, an actor if he could rent, rather than buy, an outfit – and so starts the story of this now sixth-generation family business. In the time that has passed, the family business has supplied costumes for films ranging from The Great Gatsby to Django Unchained. Even Charles Dickens was a former client!

Berenberg Bank, Germany (1590)
425 years old

The world’s oldest private bank remains in the hands of the family whose name it bears. Established in Hamburg in 1590, the chairman of the board today is Joachim von Berenberg-Consbruch, and the family holds 30% of voting rights. When the bank turned 400, a philanthropic foundation was created by the family-controlled bank, also chaired by Berenberg-Consbruch.

Broman Group, Finland (1965)
50 years old

Broman Group started as a single store selling cars and automotive parts. Fifty years later the group includes two store chains and revenues of €230 million, but the company remains firmly family run. Not to mention it was the winner of the top gong at the 2013 CampdenFB European Families in Business Awards. Today it is headed by second-gen brothers Harri and Eero Broman.

Cargill, US (1865)
150 years old

To celebrate its 150-year history, US grain company Cargill is looking into its future, making sustainability a theme of its anniversary. A dedicated website draws on the experiences of internal and external stakeholders to consider what lies ahead for the agricultural industries Cargill is part of. Starting as a single grain warehouse, owned by William Cargill, the company has expanded to become the largest in privately-ownership in the US – reaping revenues of $137 billion in 2013. Today’s fourth- and fifth-generation owners are notoriously private, and the business is professionally managed.

Groupe Bel, France (1865)
150 years old

The French cheese giant, known for Babybel and The Laughing Cow, drew on the artistry of US pop artist and graffiti Matt W Moore to mark its 150th year. Moore has created a colourful birthday card, consisting of geometric shapes inspired by cheese segments. Jules Bel founded the company in 1865, but it was not until cheese’s rise in popularity after the First World War that the company really began to prosper. Today it ranks third in the world for branded cheeses, and is today run by fifth-generation CEO Antoine Fievet.

Haigh’s, Australia (1915)
100 years old

The first Haigh’s shop, opened a centenary ago, is today a visitor centre for the fourth-generation family business. Now in the fourth-generation and run by Alistair Haigh, the chocolate maker is beloved for its chocolate frogs and its Easter Bilby – a native twist on the European tradition of the Easter Bunny. The company officially celebrates its birthday in May, and is gathering fond stories and memorabilia in the lead up to the occasion.

Mac Papers, US (1965)
50 years old

Paper was already a family tradition before brothers Frank and Tom McGehee founded Mac Papers in 1965 – their grandfather had started his own paper business half a century earlier. Now in its second generation, the Florida business has expanded into packaging, facility supplies and office products. The company will mark its Golden Jubilee with a full year of celebrations, including a website to mark the occasion, a corporate rebrand, and a customer appreciation roadshow. The outlook for the next 50 years is promising – five third-gens currently work in the business.

The New Yorker, US (1925)
90 years old

Fictional dandy Eustace Tilley, the first cover star of The New Yorker, is reappearing in the US magazine’s ninetieth celebrations. Nine artists have been commissioned to provide their own take on the man, who originally appeared observing at a butterfly through a monocle. Though founded by married couple Harold Ross and Jane Grant, the weekly magazine is now part of the sprawling Advance Publications empire, owned by the Newhouse family.

R J Balson & Sons, UK (1515)
500 years old

Until 12 months ago, the Balson family thought their business – the oldest UK family firm – was founded “the year of Thomas More’s execution” (1535 for those unfamiliar with the country’s history). Last year, however, television documentary researchers discovered the butchery was two decades older than previously thought. Today Richard Balson, the 25th generation, and his brother-in-law Rudi Boulay run the Dorset butcher. They are also the ones scrambling to celebrate half a millennium of business with just a year’s notice – although Balson has swiftly produced a book to mark the occasion.

Subway, US (1965)
50 years old

Fred DeLuca started Subway with $1,000 of borrowed money in 1965. Today it is one of the largest fast-food restaurants in the world, with over 43,000 locations. Although the company is still in its first generation, ill health has forced DeLuca, who long remained mum on succession planning, to pass most of his responsibilities to his younger sister. Referring to the company as a “family business” at the announcement, DeLuca has shed a little more light on his intended future for the company. 

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