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Family businesses score big in luxury awards

Half of the winners at this year’s awards for British companies in the luxury industry were family businesses, with names such as Goring hotel group and department store Selfridges prominent.

Half of the winners at this year’s awards for British companies in the luxury industry were family businesses, with names such as Goring hotel group and department store Selfridges prominent.

Organised by Walpole, the non-profit lobby group for the British luxury sector, the awards ceremony saw five of the 10 awards going to family businesses.

While French group Hermes, controlled by the Hermes family, was named the best international brand thanks to its famous luxury scarves boosting sales in the UK, British fashion house Mulberry was not far behind and was named the best luxury group internationally due to its strong global presence.

The Somerset-based family business, majority controlled by the Malaysian husband-wife team of Ong Beng Seng and Christina Seng, had 2011 fiscal revenues of £121.6 million (€142.5 million), up from £72 million the year before. Much of this growth – £40.5 million in 2011, a 145% increase year-on-year – was through international expansion.

Church’s English Shoes, which began as a family business founded by Thomas Church and his three sons in 1873, received the best British craftsmanship award. The Northampton, England-based company, which takes up to eight weeks to produce a pair of Church’s shoes, according to its website, was acquired by fellow family-controlled Prada in 1999.

When it comes to providing the best service, the Goring, a luxury hotel in London currently in the fourth-generation of family ownership, took home the award, thanks to its consistency in giving excellent services. The 100-year-old hotel recently accomodated Kate Middleton when she spent her last night before her wedding to Prince William at the hotel.

Selfridges, founded by Harry Gordon Selfridge, took the gong for the best luxury brand making corporate social responsibility an inherent part of the business. The group is now owned by Canada’s Weston family, which acquired the company in 2003.

Other winners included non-family business Mr Porter, named the best British luxury brand online; Alexander McQueen, the best luxury design talent; Victoria Beckham, which received the award for the emerging British luxury brand; sports car maker McLaren Automotive, the best British luxury brand; and the Royal Opera House, awarded for its cultural excellence.

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