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Family business roundup: Wendel, Carlson, Inditex up, INM down

By Giulia Cambieri

It’s been a mixed week for family businesses across the world, with some, including Wendel, Inditex and Carlson, reporting strong financial results, while Independent News & Media saw profits hit by tough trading conditions.

Wendel, the French investment company controlled by the eponymous family, said on 22 March that revenues jumped 17.5% in 2011 to €5.95 billion, from €5.07 billion in 2010.

Net income at the group, which controls electrical equipment manufacturer Legrand and Deutsch Group, was €321.4 million in 2011, up 25.9% from €255.3 million the year before.

In Spain, fashion retailer Inditex reported 10% rises in both revenues and profit for 2011 on 21 March – these increased to €13.79 billion and €3.26 billion respectively.

The Ortega family-controlled business, which owns brands such as Zara, Massimo Dutti and Bershka, opened 483 new stores in 2011 and expects “strong growth opportunities” in Europe and Asia in 2012.

However, Schaeffler, the German automotive parts company owned by the eponymous family, has given a more wary outlook for this year. The group, which saw sales rise by 13% in 2011 to €10.7 billion, is “cautiously optimistic” about 2012.

“We are currently seeing demand in the European markets weaken,” non-family chief executive Juergen Geissinger said in a statement, but business “is continuing to show a positive trend” globally, particularly in North America, China, India and Russia.

Across the Atlantic, Carlson, the family-controlled business behind brands such as Radisson and TGI Friday’s reported system wide revenues, which include franchises, of $38 billion (€28.9 billion), up 13% on 2010. Headed by second-generation Marilyn Carlson Nelson, the company also said its consolidated revenues increased by 8% to $4.5 billion last year.

Hermes, the French luxury company famous for its Birkin bag and silk ties, confirmed on 22 March the preliminary results it published in February – with profits up 32.5% to €885.2 million and sales up 18.3% to €2.84 billion. The family business also increased dividends for its shareholders to €2 per share, up from €1.50 in 2011. 

However, 2011 wasn’t as good to Independent News & Media, the Ireland-based conglomerate that publishes more than 200 newspapers and magazines and owns about 130 radio stations. It blamed “very challenging trading conditions” for a 10.9% fall in its revenues to €558 million. Profits at the company, which has been controlled by the O’Reilly family for 30 years, also fell 8.6% to €75.5 million.

Meanwhile, last week saw Salvatore Ferragamo, the luxury goods company controlled by the founding Ferragamo family, report a 26.2% rise in revenues to €986.4 million in 2011. EBITDA at the firm, which published its 2011 preliminary results on 15 March, jumped 62.4% in 2011 to €183.7 million.

Dutch travel company BCD Holdings, controlled by the Van Vlissingen family, also posted double-digit growth last week. The group said on 16 March that sales rose by 18% in 2011 to $20.8 billion “despite facing continued macro-economic challenges”. EBITDA grew to $138 million, from $108 million the previous year – a 27.8% increase.