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Family business roundup: Profits up at H&M, historic fourth quarter for Ford, good results for Fiat

More financial results have come in for 2012, with the profits of family-controlled H&M, Fiat and Ford buffeted by Europe's continuing economic problems. Meanwhile, Associated British Foods – run by the Westons – had a strong start to 2013.

More financial results have come in for 2012, with the profits of family-controlled H&M, Fiat and Ford buffeted by Europe's continuing economic problems. Meanwhile, Associated British Foods – run by the Westons – had a strong start to 2013. 

H&M
In Europe, Swedish high street fashion chain Hennes & Mauritz – controlled by the Persson family – published its annual results on 30 January. It had a difficult fourth quarter – despite the popularity of its affordable garments in new markets, profits from September to the end of November fell to SEK5.3 billion (€615 million) from SEK5.4 billion over the same period in 2011.

However, over the entire year revenues increased by 1% to SEK120.8 billion – up from SEK110 billion the previous year. It reported a profit increase of 7% to SEK16.9 billion from SEK15.8 billion in 2011.

However, over the entire year revenues increased by 1% to SEK120.8 billion – up from SEK110 billion the previous year. It reported a profit increase of 7% to SEK16.9 billion from SEK15.8 billion in 2011.

H&M put its lower fourth-quarter profits down to unfavourable currency exchanges and the cost of expansion. It opened 304 new stores over the course of the year, focusing on the US and China.

The chief executive, third-generation Karl-Johan Persson, said in a statement: "These long-term investments have created cost increases and to a great extent have not yet generated any revenue. However, we consider these investments to be both necessary and wise as they aim to secure future expansion and profits."

Fiat
Also on 30 January, car-marker Fiat published its 2012 results and reported a strong year. The Italian firm, controlled by the Agnelli family, had revenues of €84 billion, an 8% increase on the previous year's €60 billion.

The company saw strong growth in North America, Latin America and Asia. But it struggled in Europe, the Middle East and Africa – reporting a combined operating loss of €700 million.

Fiat said that despite uncertain market conditions in Europe it predicts revenues between €88 billion and €92 billion for 2013.

Ford
Fellow auto firm Ford Group, controlled by the eponymous family, saw its revenues fall 1.5% to $134.3 billion (€99.1 billion) in 2012. This drop was tempered by stellar fourth quarter pre-tax profits – the highest in more than a decade at $1.7 billion, the company said on 29 January.

Overall, Ford recorded net income of $5.7 billion – a 5.1% decrease compared to the previous year's results of $6 billion. The group reported strong performance in the North American market, but – like Fiat – the ongoing economic difficulties in Europe undermined its overall profit figures.

However, Ford was optimistic about 2013, and said in a statement that it expects to equal 2012's results. Non-family chief executive Alan Mulally said: "We are well positioned for another strong year in 2013, as we continue our plan to serve customers in all markets around the world with a full family of vehicles."

Associated British Foods

Meanwhile, the Weston family's Associated British Foods, owner of several grocery brands, had an active start to its fiscal 2013 financial year – publishing its first quarter results on 17 January. Total group revenue was up 10% on the same quarter last year, with very strong results from its budget fashion chain Primark.  
 


In the first quarter ABF’s sugar and agricultural subsidiaries recorded an increase of 12% and 3% respectively on the previous year's figures. However, ABF said it didn’t expect this strong performance to continue due to poor harvests. ABF’s groceries and ingredients sectors matched the previous year's results. 



Primark was ABF's star performer with revenues up 25% on the first quarter of 2012. ABF puts Primark's success down to a strong Christmas period and a large increase in retail space – Primark's retail space increased 1.1 million square foot (102,200 square metres) since the same period last year on the back of the opening of 14 new stores.

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