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Fifty nifty families

Blink and you might miss them. CampdenFB’s annual survey of the 50 fastest growing family businesses in the world underlines how important the family is to business.

Scholz Group, a recycling business based in the small town of Essingen in south-west Germany, is one of the fastest growing companies in the world. Indeed, it grew in revenue terms by a staggeringly high 121% between 2009 and 2011. That makes it this year’s top global challenger of the fastest growing family businesses in the world.

Click here for the full list

A fifth-generation family business, Scholz is the typical Mittelstand company that makes the German economy so strong – 100% owned by the family, discreet and driven by long-term objectives, rather than quarterly reporting pressures. There were eight companies from Germany among this year’s global challengers, all paragons of the Mittelstand model.

Altogether the 50 fastest growing family businesses in the world notched up average growth of 65% between 2009 and 2011. Although much of Europe has been mired in a deep economic downturn, 24 of this year’s companies came from the region. As well as the Mittelstand companies, Italian and French luxury groups and famous brand names like Lego from Denmark and JCB from the UK grew remarkably strongly in the last three years – a testament to the family business sector in Europe.

Fifteen companies were based in Asia, which included family businesses like the Genting Group and YTL in Malaysia, which increased revenues by 120% and 106% respectively over the three-year period. Latin America was represented by companies such as appliance retailer Magazine Luiza in Brazil, achieving growth of 92%, and the renewable energy company Impsa. North American family businesses on this year’s list included the engineering group MasTec, growing by 86%, and food retailers Holiday Companies and Sheetz, expanding by 82% and 61% respectively.

Many of these businesses are in fast-growing sectors like renewable energy, luxury and precision engineering. Luxury companies were particularly well represented by the likes of Hermès, Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo and Ermenegildo Zegna. But almost all of them put their success down to being family businesses first, before the sectors they operate in. And most are adamant they want to remain family controlled. “Family ownership is definitely an important factor as investment decisions are always taken with a long-term focus and the group thinks in generations,” Oliver Scholz, chief executive of the Scholz Group, told CampdenFB.

Scholz was also the biggest business on the list, doubling in size over the three-year period with revenues of more than €5 billion in 2011. “How the global challengers were able to turn their potential competitive advantage of being family businesses into superior growth and success is very impressive,” says specialist in family businesses Peter Englisch, a senior partner at Ernst & Young, which the research was carried out in association with. “These companies underline the best of innovational spirit and entrepreneurial power.”

To rank the companies, CampdenFB looked at revenue growth in local currency during the three-year period from 2009 until 2011. To be included in the list, businesses must have met all the criteria listed below:
● At least one representative of the family is formally involved in the governance of the business;
● Listed companies meet the definition of a family enterprise if the person who established or acquired the firm or their families or descendants possess at least 25% of the decision- making rights mandated by their share capital;
● The share capital controlled by the family is at least in the second generation or beyond;
● All companies had revenues of no more than €5 billion in 2009;
● Revenues were either publicly available or made available to CampdenFB.


Do you know of a family business that should have been on the list? Let us know by emailing Giulia Cambieri at 

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