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Family business roundup: AB InBev, JC Decaux, Schmolz-Bickenbach and Brown-Forman post strong growth

By Giulia Cambieri

Buoyant results have made it a good week for some of the world’s biggest family businesses, except for one Argentinian food group which saw its profits drop by almost a third.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, Belgium’s brewing giant controlled by the Lemann and De Spoelberch families, said on 8 March that revenues grew by 4.6% in 2011 to $39.05 billion (€29.53 billion), from $36.3 billion in 2010.

The company, which owns brands such as Budweiser, Stella Artois and Beck’s, added that its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation for 2011 was $15.4 billion, compared to $13.9 billion the year before – a 7.7% increase.

AB InBev, which was created in 2008 following the merger of Belgium’s beer group Interbrew with Brazilian brewery AmBev, also said it increased its market share in countries such as Argentina, China, Germany, Belgium and Ukraine.

In Germany, family business Schmolz+Bickenbach saw double-digit growth in 2011, with sales jumping 26.4% to €3.9 billion, from €3.1 billion in 2010.

Controlled by the founding Schmolz and Bickenbach families, the Dusseldorf-based company said on 7 March that EBITDA grew by 27.2% in 2011 to €296.2 million, from €232.9 million the previous year.

In neighbouring France, JC Decaux, the advertising company controlled by the eponymous family, also posted growth, with sales rising by 4.8% to €2.5 billion, from €2.4 billion in 2010.

In a statement released on 8 March, the group, currently headed by chairman and family member Jean-François Decaux, added that its income before tax increased by 17.2% in 2011 to €327.1 million, from €279.0 million the year before.

But European family businesses aren’t the only ones that saw buoyant performance in 2011.

In the US, Brown-Forman, the food and drink company controlled by the founding Brown family, had revenues of $3.4 billion in 2011, up by 6% over the previous year.

Operating income at the group, which is run by fifth-generation chairman Garvin Brown and controls liqueur brands such as Jack Daniel’s and Southern Comfort, was $855 million in 2011, up from $710 million in 2010 – a 20% increase.

In contrast to the strong results posted by Brown-Forman, food company Molinos Rio de la Plata, which is controlled by Argentina’s Perez Companc family, posted a large fall in its profit.

The country’s largest food company said net income for 2011 was 277 million Argentine pesos (€48.3 million), 26% lesser than ARS376 million in 2010.