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Winners of the Families in Business Awards announced

Prosthetic-maker Ottobock was named the top family business in Europe, while brothers Jean-Francois Decaux and Jean-Charles Decaux took the top leader award at a gala dinner in Amsterdam last night.

Prosthetic-maker Ottobock was named the top family business in Europe, while brothers Jean-Francois Decaux and Jean-Charles Decaux took the top leader award at a gala dinner in Amsterdam last night.

Professor Hans Georg Nader, whose grandfather founded Ottobock in 1919, accepted the award on behalf of the firm at the inaugural CampdenFB Families in Business Awards, in association with Societe Generale Private Banking.

Nader said the accolade was particularly timely ahead of Ottobock’s involvement in this year’s Paralympic Games.

The Decaux brothers, who together head French outdoor advertiser JCDecaux, received the top family business leader award for their work turning the company around after the global downturn in 2009.

In front of the audience of family business leaders and owners, Jean-Francois said that when he first joined, the family business operated solely in France and was turning over about €100 million a year – now it has revenues of €2.5 billion.

He said the company’s success was down to the strong partnership between the brothers. “Two heads are better than one,” he added.

Host Annemarie van Gaal, one of the Netherlands’ best-known entrepreneurs, also named Ramon Naf and his sister Sarah Flieg-Naf, from the Swiss-based Naef Group, as the winners of the rising star award – aimed at celebrating next-gens who are playing a big role in their family business.

In a tearful acceptance speech, Sarah described the win as “unbelievable”.

“It was such an honour to be shortlisted; to win is incredible,” she added. 

Competition was particularly tough in the non-family director category, with the judges deciding to jointly award the prize to Hartmut Jenner from Alfred Karcher and Wolfgang Niessner from Gebruder Weiss.

On stage, Jenner thanked the Karchers and employees, and said he always tries to embrace the family’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Meanwhile, family member Elisabeth Krainer Senger-Weiss accepted the award on behalf of Niessner.

Ikea, the flat-pack retailer, took the sustainability prize for its efforts to reduce its environmental impact and its charitable work through its foundation.

Per Heggenes, who heads up the Ikea Foundation, said: “Having really focused a long time on the business’s ability to become sustainable, our focus now is on enabling our 600 million customers to live a more sustainable life.”

David Bain, editorial director of Campden Wealth and one of the five-strong judging panel, said the aim of the awards was to recognise Europe’s best family businesses and leaders, and to highlight the “huge role” family-controlled businesses are playing in employment, economic growth and even social cohesion.

To find out more about the winners and the other nominees, click here

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