Fast-growing companies are what get economies moving and this year more than 70% of the leaders in our Top 50 list are from expanding new companies we have never featured. Read on about the leaders getting their family businesses going in the right direction
Welcome to the Top 50 Family Business Leaders List 2017—the seventh time CampdenFB has compiled its list of leading lights. This year we have an exciting array of family enterprises—more than 30 of which have never been featured before—as we focus on the theme of fast-growing mid-sized companies. While many here have revenues of more than $1 billion, most are from rapidly-expanding enterprises with revenues in the hundreds of millions. Family businesses have also been included under the traditional criteria of governance, innovation, and of course succession. We have again strived to explore the world’s six major regions in as much details as possible to drive greater geographical diversity.
This shot of new blood is not because last year’s leaders have fallen from favour, many are still at the top of their game—rather it’s a reflection of the new ‘global challengers’ we have uncovered building on the work from Campden Research. We spend 12 months looking for the family business heads who are making a mark in different parts of the globe. New, exciting faces include: Bharat Shah, whose Kenyan conglomerate has taken on minority equity partners to accelerate further growth in East Africa, and Maggie Hardy Magerko whose US building supplies company has grown 10% annually since 2013 and is nationally certified through the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council as a woman-owned and operated business. It is also difficult to miss out some impressive next-generation leaders including Brendan Bechtel, Robert Uggla, and Colleen Wegman.
Still, there are several who have been included again. Lubna Olayan last appeared on the list in 2015 and continues to be a leading light for female leaders in Saudi Arabia and beyond. Despite a tough retail environment, chairman Gareth Ackerman returns as he simplified Pick N Pay’s ownership structure in the past 12 months introducing more modern corporate governance as the South African retailer celebrated its 50th anniversary. We hope you enjoy this diverse list of inspirational leaders and do let us know of any we should consider for 2018.
Under Ackerman, the structure of the company was changed to a single share listing in 2016. This was done to avoid a hostile takeover and keep control within the family. The move also made the company more attractive to investors; something it continues to do in the face of weak consumer spending. A turnaround strategy to attract consumers by discounting heavily and having more modern stores has been implemented and the firm also opened new stores in the region to further boost its fortunes.
Enthoven is notoriously reclusive but has managed to expand his family’s business interests while promoting succession within the family. Enthoven is owner of the Nando’s fast food chain, the Hollard Group of insurance companies, and Spier Wine Farm. Under his stewardship, Nandos has expanded successfully into the UK, opening more than 300 outlets and changing the model from a take away service to a sit down offering. Dick’s son, Robby Enthoven, heads the UK operation of Nandos.
The Madhvani family pioneered the production of sugar in Uganda now producing up to 180,000 tonnes. The group has just commissioned a state of the art ethanol distillery which will produce 20 million litres of ethanol annually. The group attracted praise from Uganda’s president who pointed out that this amount of domestic sugar production not only saved the country the much needed foreign currency that would have been used for importing sugar but has also provided Ugandans with employment.
Italtile is South Africa’s leading retailer of imported and domestic ceramic and porcelain tiles, sanitary ware, bathroom accessories, and other related products. When South Africa was subjected to sanctions, Ravazzotti began domestic production to assure the company’s future. Since 2013 it has seen growth figures of around 13%. And in 2015 it had a network of 133 stores, 16 of which are located in the rest of Africa. It was the only African business in Campden Wealth’s Top 50 Global Challengers in 2017.
Rupert has widespread business interests. As the chairman of the group behind brands such as Cartier and Montblanc, he is best known for his backing of a universal basic income. His high profile comments have been made in the context of changes in industrial processes and the rise of artificial intelligence that would leave many people unemployable. His thrust is that a universal basic income gives people the time and the ability to reskill themselves for a new economy.
Kenafric is a growing East African conglomerate. It was founded in 1987 by Velji Punja Shah and his four sons and has grown to emerge as a major fast-moving consumer goods group in East Africa, having diversified into confectionery, footwear, culinary and stationery manufacturing. It has recently taken on minority stakeholders, Amethis Finance and Metier, to help accelerate future growth. Its plan is to expand into a regional packaged food platform by leveraging its existing strengths of route to market and product range.
Dabur has enjoyed 7% annual growth since 2013, pushing it into Campden Wealth’s Top 50 Global Challengers in 2017. The company has benefitted from growing demand for its hair oils, toothpaste, packaged juices, and home-care products. Dabur is also developing two ayurvedic drugs, for malaria and diabetes, in partnership with the Indian government. Burman’s involvement in the company dates from 1980 when he joined as manager of the research and development department. He joined the company’s board in 1986 and became chairman of Dabur in 2007.
Third-generation family member Adrian Cheng was promoted to executive vice-chairman and general manager of New World Group in March this year. The promotion is widely seen as a signal of his future succession at the Hong Kong-based property behemoth after his father suffered a stroke in January. Meanwhile, Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, the investment vehicle behind Hong Kong’s Cheng family, is buying Australian energy group Alinta Energy in an AUD$4 billion ($3.08 billion) deal. The purchase of Alinta signifies its first steps into the energy sector.
Richard Eu can take credit for changing the fortunes of Eu Yan Sang, the healthcare company founded by his great-grandfather in 1879. Eu has focused on modernising the firm, which specialises in traditional Chinese medicine and won the 2016 Singapore 1,000 Award for turnover growth excellence in the commerce-retail sector. In 2016 the company exited the local bourse; a decision that was influenced by succession planning and the risk of diluting family interest. The family has a 23.8% stake and is seeking to increase this to institutionalise the family’s shareholding.
Jet Airways has seen 13% annual growth since 2013 making it the fastest-growing Indian business in Campden Wealth’s Top 50 Global Challengers 2017 list. Goyal set up the company in response to the opening of the Indian economy and the enunciation of the Open Skies Policy by the Government of India. Jet sold a 24% stake to Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways in 2013 which helped it to cut costs on fuel purchase, commercial agreements, maintenance costs and even loans. Goyal has been introducing his son, Nivaan (24), to the industry. He is a manager in Jet’s team responsible for airport services and commerce.
Hill became chairwoman in 2015, succeeding her father and founder Michael. Since then, Hill has launched Emma & Roe, specialising in interchangeable jewellery–charm bracelets which can be added to, or stackable rings, for example. It has separate stores to the main brand and Hill has expanded it to 24 shops in New Zealand and Australia, as well as online. It plans to open another 10 Michael Hill stores and six Emma & Roe stores in 2017.
D&L is now the largest chemical company in the Philippines with 43% annual growth since 2013, rocketing it to second place on Campden Wealth’s Top 50 Global Challengers 2017 list. Its export growth in 2016 alone amounted to more than 20% as the second generation builds on the successes of the founding generation. Chief executive Alvin Lao runs the company alongside fellow second-generation managing directors Dean Lao Junior, Lester Lao, and Vincent Lao, where clear succession rules require external experience before family can join D&L Industries.
Under third-generation chair Pudumjee, this Indian energy and environment engineering company based in India and Britain has seen annual growth of 7%, earning it a place in the Top 50 Global Challengers in 2013 and 2017. Pudumjee is a huge supporter of alternative energies and Thermax has fast become an industry leader in global energy and social responsibility. In 2015 the company acquired a 33% stake in Pune-based First Energy, a biomass-based stove and pellet fuel producer. The company plans to invest Rs150 crore to set up a manufacturing facility for absorption chillers.
Razon inherited the company in 1987 and has grown it to one of the largest corporations in Asia providing container-port terminal services. The company has had 12% annual growth since 2013. After consolidating its base and flagship operations, International Container Terminal Services launched an aggressive international and domestic expansion programme in 1994. The company is assessing its capital expenditure in the wake of a temporary 10% decline in revenues which it says is due to lower storage and ancillary revenues, and start-up costs of new terminals and projects.
The KBZ group of companies is one of the largest privately-owned diversified group of companies in Myanmar. Founded by Aung Ko Win in 1994, it now has more than 80,000 employees. As a family business, Win’s wife serves as deputy chairman of KBZ, while his three daughters are directors. The family’s core values are integrated in the corporate values. It is recognised to be the leading philanthropic organisation in Myanmar and has been awarded for its CSR initiatives. Under Win, KBZ has enjoyed a 31% annual growth rate since 2013.
Sunray Woodcraft Construction was incorporated in 1987 as a small family business in carpentry trade. Over two decades, it has developed into one of the largest renovation and interior construction company for any interior fitting-out works in Singapore. In April 2014, it moved into an eight-storey integrated headquarters and production facility and the company is now making inroads into regional markets including South East Asia, East Asia, and the wider Middle East region.
The third child of Bernard Arnault, France’s richest man and the chairman and chief executive of luxury goods giant LVMH, Alexandre stepped up to his high-profile role at German luggage producer Rimowa after LVMH bought a majority stake in the company last year. The 24-year-old has been promoted to the position after playing a key part in helping LVMH acquire the third-generation family business—the first German ‘maison’ to be added to the French group.
Werner Baier, great-grandson of Webasto founder Wilhelm Baier, is such a key industrial figure that he even has a street named after him, Werner-Baier-Strasse, in the city of Neubrandenburg, where the company has a large factory. He ran Webasto, which produces car roofing and heating systems, for two decades and now chairs the supervisory board. Under his stewardship, Webasto has enjoyed rapid growth (8% last year), won a string of awards and is one of Campden Wealth’sTop 50 Global Challengers in 2017.
Brembo has enjoyed rapid growth—it has averaged 15.1% over the past three years—partly thanks to its focus on supplying brakes and clutches to premium car makers from BMW to Porsche, which enjoy an ever-growing market share. It also supplies Formula One teams, including Ferrari, and high-end motorcycle manufacturers. Billionaire Alberto Bombassei, son of Brembo’s co-founder, Emilio Bombassei, owns just over half of the company, which was listed in Campden Wealth’s Top 50 Global Challengers in 2013 and 2017.
Sixth-generation family member Axel Dumas took on his latest role in 2014 after varied global business experience inside and outside Hermès. This year he came out on top of a protracted battle for control of Hermès with LVMH head Bernard Arnault, who gave up his final shares in his rival company in favour of concentrating on Dior. Under Dumas, Hermès’ growth has outstripped that of its rivals—last year sales increased by 7.5%—and this has helped to send its share price rocketing.
One of Campden Wealth’s Top 50 Global Challengers this year, Mane has the sweet smell of success about it, having enjoyed 11.7% growth in revenues between 2015 and 2016. It was founded in 1871 by Jean Mane’s great-grandfather, Victor Mane, who used flowers and plants to produce scented materials. Today more than half the revenues comes from making flavourings, and fragrances account for 36% of revenue. Jean Mane has been president since 1995 and under him the company has become a truly global operator.
Giovanni Ferrero has overcome the tragedy of his brother’s accidental death in 2011—the pair had been co-chief executives since 1997—to continue Ferrero’s expansion by buying Britain’s Thorntons in 2015 and speeding up product development. Owner of brands such as Kinder, Tic Tac, Ferrero Rocher, and Nutella, the company is expanding fast, having recorded a 13.4% annual increase in sales. A third-generation family member, Ferrero will focus on long-term strategy from September after stepping down as chief executive.
It is a mark of this marine engineering company’s strength that, nearly a decade after Pieter van Oord took over as chief executive, it generated profits of €90 million ($98.8 million) in 2016. This was despite revenues falling by about a third as major projects ended, and the oil and gas sector faced cutbacks. A fourth-generation family member, Van Oord has been key to the company’s diversification beyond its core strength of dredging. The family-controlled firm was among the top 10 firms in Campden Wealth’s Top 50 Global Challengers in 2017.
Alberto Vacchi has been at the helm of this manufacturer of machines for processing and packaging tea, coffee, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical products for two decades. Under his leadership, the company has enjoyed furious growth, achieving a 29.8% jump in 2015 and an 18.1% increase last year. IMA puts its upbeat performance down to heavy investment in research and development: almost one in 10 employees is a designer and the company owns more than 1,400 patents or patent applications.
Robert Maersk Uggla has already shown himself to be a high-flier within the Maersk empire, having spent four years in charge of Svitzer, Maersk’s towage and salvage unit, before last year becoming chief executive of the family’s A.P. Moller Holding. No wonder he is seen as the heir presumptive of the empire. However, he has shown himself willing to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, Maersk McKinney Moller, in another way, having this year set up a private investment vehicle so he can make purchases outside the group.
Since taking over as creative director in 2004, the former journalist Alannah Weston has been credited with helping to revitalise Selfridges, the retailer owned by her Irish-Canadian billionaire father, Galen Weston. After helping the company to achieve record sales and confounding sceptics, she was appointed deputy chairman of Selfridges Group in early 2014. Last year she took a seat on the board of the Canadian food processing and distribution giant George Weston Ltd, which her father chairs.
It is two-and-a-half centuries since Juan Beckmann Vidal’s ancestors set up the tequila operation, Jose Cuervo, which this year generated more than $900 million in a Mexican initial public offering (IPO). The IPO’s success, which leaves the family the majority owners, came after it was postponed twice because of currency fluctuations. Jose Cuervo is growing fast—last year revenues jumped 32% as the key US market expanded rapidly—and is looking to secure more of the premium sector of the tequila trade.
Semptertex’s status as one of the world’s largest producer of balloons is remarkable given that the founder, Emil Loewy, arrived in Colombia as a refugee after fleeing Nazi-controlled Austria. Emil’s son Oswald can take much of the credit for the company’s expansion since he decided to focus on making just balloons, which attract higher margins. Now, millions of balloons are made a day and exported to more than 70 countries. The company has many senior female personnel and 80% of the workforce are women.
Third-generation family member Lorenzo Mendoza Giménez, at the helm for nearly two decades, has in recent years had to steer Venezuela’s largest private company through turbulent times. He has dealt with an economic crisis and food shortages coming amid insults and threats of expropriation from the authorities. A vast, loyal customer base helps to protect the company, whose sales constitute more than 3% of Venezuela’s non-oil GDP. More than half of the turnover comes from beer, but Empresas Polar is also the country’s top processed foods producer.
One of Gregorio Pérez Companc’s seven children, Luís Pérez Companc has presided over a vast increase in revenues at the family-controlled branded food company Molinos Río de la Plata after becoming chairman in 2011, two years after his father took it over. In 2012 turnover was ARS17.2 billion, but by last year it had more than doubled to ARS39.2 billion making it one of Campden Wealth’s Top 50 Global Challengers in 2013 and 2017. Before becoming chairman, Luís Pérez Companc competed as a driver in the elite World Rally Championship.
Taking on the world as a cinema operator from Mexico, where ticket prices are particularly low, may seem unlikely, but Cinepolis has done it with great success, becoming one of the world’s top five multiplex owners. Under Harvard and Oxford-educated third-generation family member Alejandro Ramirez, who gave up a job with the UN to work for the family business and became chief executive in 2006, it has expanded rapidly. Between 2005 and 2015 admissions rose from 157 million to 262 million and are still growing at double-digit rates.
This producer of poultry, eggs, pork and other agricultural products enjoyed 12.5% growth in turnover in 2016, with the final quarter’s 21.9% jump demonstrating the breathless rate of expansion under Francisco Robinson Bours Castelo, the chairman since 2002. Overseas sales are increasingly important and now make up just over a quarter of the total, the company having made overseas acquisitions to cement organic growth. It was the highest-ranked Latin American company in Campden Wealth’s Top 50 Global Challengers in 2017.
Third-generation family member Paolo Rocca has been at the forefront of this industrial conglomerate’s global expansion by carrying out multiple acquisitions in Latin America and elsewhere. The younger brother of company chairman Gianfelice Rocca (the eldest brother, Agostino, died in an aircraft crash in 2001), Paolo has built the company, founded by his grandfather in Italy, into a global conglomerate with operations in more than 20 countries and over 50,000 staff. It is the world’s number one supplier of seamless steel tubes.
Israel’s wealthiest woman, worth a reported $5.2 billion, has put her fortune to good use by spearheading a major philanthropic project, Good Deeds Day, which has spread to more than 90 countries. She has also written a book, The Doing Good Model, outlining her philosophy. In 1981, she and her father, the late cruise line magnate Ted Arison, set up The Ted Arison Family Foundation, which carried out work in fields such as education and health. It has donated $420 million to good causes in Israel alone.
Harvard-educated Muhammad Al Agil is nothing if not focused on rapid growth. Having said that, he would like to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to double the number of stores that Jarir Group (which includes Jarir Marketing, Jarir Bookstore, and other subsidiaries) has in the Middle East and North Africa every five years. Revenues have been growing at double-digit percentages pushing it to become the highest-ranked Middle Eastern company in Campden Wealth’s Top 50 Global Challengers in 2017.
Named after north-west Turkey’s highest mountain, this producer of mineral water, fruit-flavoured drinks, and other beverages was founded by Mehmet Erbak’s grandfather in 1930, although the mineral water comes from a source that is even older. Erbak has completed nearly a quarter of a century as chairman and under him global and domestic expansion has accelerated. Exports go to about 40 countries, although 80% of revenues are from Turkey. The family’s fourth generation is involved in the company, which remains wholly family owned.
As if being chief executive of the UAE’s Mashreq Bank and chairman of industrial group Al Ghurair Investment were not enough for second-generation family member Abdul Aziz Abdulla Al Ghurair. He is also spearheading efforts to help the region’s family businesses as founding chairman of the Family Business Council-Gulf. A branch of the Family Business Network, the organisation enables family business members of all generations to network and share experiences. Al Ghurair has also served as speaker of his country’s Federal National Council.
As head of the Americana Group—also known as Kuwait Food Company and part of the vast Kharafi Group—third-generation family member Marzouk Nasser Al-Kharafi is in charge of more than 1,700 restaurants and 63,000 employees in 13 countries. The Middle East’s largest restaurant operator, it runs outlets under its own brands and for household names such as Costa Coffee, Krispy Kreme, and Pizza Hut. Growth has averaged several percent in recent years, earning it a place in Campden Wealth’s Top 50 Global Challengers in 2017.
US-educated Mohamed Mansour has led the family conglomerate for more than four decades since the death in the mid-1970s of his father, Loutfy, a successful cotton trader whose business was nationalised. Becoming a General Motors distributor was key to the group’s growth: it is now GM’s largest distributor worldwide. A former Egyptian transport minister, Mansour runs the business, which employs a reported 60,000 people and invests more than $100 million annually on new projects, with younger brothers Youssef and Yasseen.
One of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent businesswomen—Forbes named her as one of the world’s 100 most powerful women—second-generation family member Lubna Olayan runs Olayan Financing, a holding company within the Olayan Group, the conglomerate founded by her father. Reports suggest Olayan Financing could be floated, with the initial public offering likely to value the company at as much as $5 billion. Olayan also pushes female empowerment in a country where women have few role models.
Appointed chief executive in September 2016, Brendan Bechtel went on to be unanimously elected chairman of Bechtel Group by the company’s board of directors in April this year. He succeeded his father and now holds the dual titles and responsibilities of chairman and chief executive, the fifth generation of his family to do so. High ethical standards and values remain core, notably the provision of long-term careers for its 53,000 employees.
Cotton’s vision has led the growth of the Meridian family of healthcare entities to being the largest Medicaid health maintenance organisation in Michigan and Illinois, serving more than 850,000 members among 45,000 providers in six states. Meridian Health Plan generates more than $3 billion in annual revenue, posting annual growth in 2015 of 47.3%. This stellar increase led to it being crowned the fastest growing family-controlled firm in Campden Wealth’s Top 50 Global Challengers in 2017.
Since taking control in 2009 William Lauder has been credited with expanding the company’s international presence and distribution channels, and strengthening the brand portfolio. Estée Lauder Companies has 46,000 employees in more than 150 countries and territories, and has seen robust balance sheet performance. Estée Lauder’s acquisition of BECCA in 2016 supports BECCAs expansion into South East Asia, Europe and the Middle East via French cosmetics chain store Sephora. The BECCA brand also has a notable social media presence, something that the brand overall can leverage.
Redstone currently serves as the president of National Amusements (the overall holding company) as well as vice-chairwoman of CBS Corporation and Viacom. Viacom has gone through a board room tug-of-war in recent months and Redstone has emerged looking strong. Her nomination for innovation is also due to her efforts as co-founder of Advancit Capital—an investor in early stage companies at the intersection of media, entertainment, and technology.
Under Magerko’s stewardship 84 Lumber has enjoyed 10% annual growth since 2013, leading to it being included as one of Campden Wealth’s Top 50 Global Challengers in 2017. This is a massive reversal in fortunes; the company almost went bankrupt in 2008 and Magerko has worked to strengthen the company’s position while running a leaner operation with fewer stores, located in more strategic locations. Under her leadership, 84 Lumber is a nationally certified Women’s Business Enterprise National Council company.
Middlesex Corporation has enjoyed an average growth rate of 15.3% since 2013, making it one of the Top 10 companies in Campden Wealth’s Top 50 Global Challengers in 2017. The company is heavily focused on safety and quality—an initiative started by Robert Pereira’s father who founded the business in 1972. It has received industry recognition both for its safety focus and specific construction projects, such as 2016 Roads & Bridges magazine Top 10 Bridge Projects- Beach Road over Lagoon Pond Drawbridge in Oak Bluffs/Tisbury, MA.
In his role as deputy publisher, Sulzberger should eventually succeed his father as publisher, which would make him the fifth generation of the Sulzberger family to lead The New York Times. He has already had input into a blueprint for the newspaper’s 2020 digital reinvention and has also collaborated with The Times’ business side on strategy. He has come up through the ranks having spent time on the metro and national desks and values journalistic investment.
Steuart Walton is the first grandchild of Walmart founder Sam Walton to take on a significant role in the family business. Historically just three members of the Walton family have been members of the company’s board. Steuart Walton has worked at Walmart before but left in 2013 to start his own company, Game Composites, which designs and builds small composite aircraft. His board membership is part of a broader revamp of Walmart’s boardroom aimed at reducing the board’s size to position it to be reactive and nimble more.
Appointed chief executive in March 2017, Wegman has been president at the 92-store Gates-based chain since 2005 and involved in the business since 1991. Her father, 70-year-old Danny Wegman, will remain chairman and her sister, Nicole, is a senior vice-president. The firm is looking to expand its six-state footprint and is the area’s largest employer, with 13,500 employees. It is also 30th on the 2017 Supermarket News list of the Top 75 Supermarkets based on sales volume, leaving it plenty of room to grow.
Weston’s appointment as chair marks the fourth generation of the family to lead the business and he was deemed a natural fit to replace his father W. Galen. He has been executive chairman of supermarket chain Loblaw since 2006 and president of Loblaw since 2014. Under his leadership, the company has one of the leading digital propositions and has a well-regarded loyalty programme. The successful acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart in 2013 earned the younger Weston respect in the business community.