The importance of family businesses to the European economy cannot by underestimated. They are essential to growth and employment creation throughout the world’s biggest economic area. CampdenFB has produced a list of the top 100 family businesses in the region, which shows just how crucial these businesses are to Europe’s economy. Their combined revenues have reached more than €1.8 trillion in 2011, that’s nearly 14% of the European Union’s GDP.
The top 100 represent a broad range of industries, from automaker Volkswagen, which topped the list with revenues of nearly €160 billion last year, to 100th-placed retailer, the German Douglas Group. As would be expected, businesses from Europe’s largest economy Germany comprise more than a third of the top 100. Italian and French family businesses were pretty much equally represented on the list, with 15 and 14 companies respectively. But British and Spanish firms only made up 8% of the companies on the list. This reflects the UK’s smaller family business sector, compared with their continental counterparts, and the weakness of the Spanish economy since 2009.
Revenues for the top 100 family businesses were up by more than 17% in 2011 from 2010, indicating that overall Europe’s biggest family businesses have recovered strongly from the downturn in much of 2009 and 2010.
Nevertheless, a further analysis of many of the results shows that revenue growth was much stronger in the first half of 2011, compared with the second half, when the euro crisis kicked off.
The table lists the company, the family/families controlling the 25% or above of capital, the country where the company is based, the sector it operates in, revenues for 2011 and 2010, and how much of the company is owned by the family/families/family-controlled foundations.
There are many difficulties in compiling a list like this, not least that families often channel ownership through diverse holding companies and might have multiple shareholding structures for regulatory and tax reasons, so any list like this cannot be completely definitive in knowing exactly the level of family ownership. But through our exhaustive efforts CampdenFB was able to track down ownership for the majority of businesses on the list, and where that wasn’t possible we were able to use as accurate as possible estimates.
Click on the interactive chart to find out more about the companies.
CampdenFB would like to acknowledge the help of the Aidaf - Alberto Falck Chair in Strategic Management at Bocconi University, in providing information for many of the Italian companies on the list.
To be included in the list, businesses must have met all of the following criteria:
• At least one representative of the family or kin is formally involved in the governance of the firm;
• Listed companies met the definition of family enterprise if the persons who established or acquired the firm from their families or descendants possess at least 25% or more of the decision-making rights mandated by their share capital; and
• The share capital controlled by the family is at least in the second generation or beyond.