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Italy's Starhotels crowned supreme European family business in 2017

By Alexandra Newlove

Starhotels has taken out the top award at the sixth annual European Families in Business Awards, presented in Prague on 20 June.

Second generation Starhotels chief executive Elisabetta Fabri accepted the award at the high-profile event. She said she has worked to reposition Starhotels' brand, including renovating the hotels, expanding internationally, and "improving the quality of our hospitality".

"It's a surprise [to win the award] ... I am very, very pleased. This is a great group of people [the finalists], and we're a group that shares a passion for family business, which is very exciting," Fabri told the audience from more than 20 countries.

More than 100 multigenerational family members, principals, chief executives, and advisers of family businesses and offices attended a glittering gala dinner and awards at Prague's Lobkowicz Palace, held in partnership with Societe Generale Private Banking for the sixth consecutive year.

The evening recognised European family businesses that excel in stewardship and governance, as well as revenue growth and profits, as judged by five international family business leaders and specialists.

Cyril CamusThe judges were impressed by Starhotels' rapid growth – revenue increased 16% year-on-year in 2015 – as well as the company's commitment to giving back.

Fabri – well known for her advocacy and philanthropy – was also nominated in the Top Family Business Leader category, though this was won by Cyril Camus, president of Camus Cognac.

Camus, a fifth generation family member and sole shareholder at the historic brand, is celebrated for his nous in emerging markets. During his tenure he has expanded the French brand into China, Japan, Russia, and the US.

Brothers Martin & Andreas Prinz, from Austrian pharmaceuticals business Croma-Pharma, were named joint winners of the Top Family Business Rising Star award with Geordie Willis, creative director at UK wine merchants Berry Bros and Rudd.

Non-profit founder and out-of-the-box shoe maker Galahad Clark, of Clarks Shoes family fame, won the award for Top-Next Generation Entrepreneur, while Michaela Doll-Lämmer, director of hotels at Germany's Europa-Park was recognised as the Top Non-Family Director.

Italian holding company CIR Group won the Top Sustainable Family Business award, off the back of its ongoing effort to protect the environment, including one of its companies using 74% recycled paper.

Olivier Lecler, chief executive of Societe Generale Private Banking Switzerland

Nicholas Moody, CampdenFB editor and one of the judges, commended the winners on showing that successful businesses could prosper despite the uncertain political climate.

“Our winners are showing businesses of all types why patient, long-term capitalism works best. It is wonderful to gather together such a diverse range of businesses from different countries, but with a similar modus operandi.”

Olivier Lecler, chief executive of Societe Generale Private Banking Switzerland who handed out the awards, agreed that the stability, responsibility, and long-term vision embodied by family businesses was “more necessary than ever”.

“I am very proud to be able to acknowledge and highlight, through the European Families in Business Awards and its seven winners, the pivotal role these families play in Europe. Congratulations to all the winners!”

The 2017 European Families in Business Award winners are:

Top Family Business of the Year
Starhotels – Fabri family (Italy)

Top Family Business Leader of the Year
Cyril Camus – Camus Cognac (France)

Top Family Business Rising Star
Joint winners: Andreas and Martin Prinz - Croma-Pharma (Austria), and Geordie Willis - Berry Bros & Rudd (UK)

Top Next-Generation Entrepreneur Award
Galahad Clark - VivoBarefoot (UK)

Top Non-Family Director of the Year
Michaela Doll-Lämmer - Europa-Park (Germany)

Top Sustainable Family Business of the Year
CIR Group – De Benedetti family (Italy)

Watch the photo gallery here 

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