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Pluck of the Irish as Musgrave Group takes home top award

Family and non-family principals of Ireland’s leading food retail and wholesale company crowded the stage to accept the Top Family Business Award 2018 as next generations vowed to build on the success of their families at the gala ceremony in Madrid.

Family and non-family principals of Ireland’s leading food retail and wholesale company crowded the stage to accept the Top Family Business Award 2018 as next generations vowed to build on the success of their families at the gala ceremony in Madrid.

The Irish family that claimed this year’s leading prize at the CampdenFB European Families in Business Awards paid tribute to the “fantastic families” who shared their “best in class” stories on the stage.

The Musgrave Group capped three consecutive years of profit growth, up 9% year-on-year before tax to €80 million ($96 million), by winning the Top Family Business Award at the gala ceremony in Madrid on 12 June 2018.

To rounds of applause, a beaming Chris Musgrave, vice chairman of Musgrave Group, accepted the award flanked by senior family and non-family members of his sixth-generation company.

Musgrave said anyone who attended the European Families in Business Conference that day and stood away from their own business could not but reflect on the “fantastic families” who shared their “wonderful stories” in keynote speeches, fireside chats, and panel discussions.

Musgrave thanked host Campden Wealth, sponsor Societe Generale Private Banking (SGPB) and “the generosity of the third generation of my family” at the podium to an audience of more than 100 international peers, associates and guests.

“It was through their wisdom that, more than 20 years ago, they realised that to pass a business on of our size, you have got to involve the family, and that is how the whole structure started,” Musgrave said.

“Here we are today and it has been a resounding success. We are as good as yesterday, we keep going [and] that is why I come to an event like this, I want to come and learn, we all want to come and learn from other family businesses what is best in class [and] where do we go from here.”

From left: Tim Jenkins, MC; Nicky Hartery, chairman of Musgrave Group; Chris Musgrave, vice chairman; Brian Thompson, chairman of the Next Generation Committee; Stuart Musgrave, retired non-executive family director; Jean-François Mazaud, head of SGPB; and Nicholas Moody, editor of CampdenFB

Jean Mane, fourth-generation president of the family-owned MANE Group, accepted the Top Sustainable Family Business Award.

Accompanied by his nephew Victor, Mane told the audience it was “a great honour” for both of them and the French flavours and fragrances manufacturing group to receive the award. Each generation had added to the talents of the previous. Adaptability meant they could find where their strengths and competitive advantages were and turn them into success, he said.

The €1.15 billion ($1.4 billion) MANE Group proved “remarkably resilient” against the global financial crisis while expanding in developing markets.

“I am very grateful for the high recognition for the work that was accomplished, or is being done, by the five generations of the Mane family,” he said.

“At the heart of Mane’s professional organisation, based on technologies, processes, and talents, beats a heart moved by unlimited passion. The passion of a family, the passion of our 6,000 people worldwide and the commitment of a team distils into our products.

“For our family, sustainable growth means perenniality of our company and improving the wealth and the quality of work and life of the many families from 40 different countries which constitute our group.”

Jean Mane (L) with his nephew Victor Mane

Victor Mane said the award represented an important milestone for the group to be recognised as a sustainable and responsible company.

“Yet with great honour also comes great responsibilities towards all our co-workers worldwide, their families, our different stakeholders and, for me especially, the environment. We must not rest on our laurels because we know the hardest challenges are yet to come in this increasingly VUCA [volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous] environment.

“This award is to be credited to the fourth-generation of Mane but, on behalf of the fifth generation, thank you for showing us the right path, for showing us that hard work pays off and for putting the bar this high, so on behalf of the fifth generation we accept the challenges to continue to drive our business in a responsible manner to the next level for the benefit of current and future generations.”

Sole Ferragamo won the Top Next-Generation Entrepreneur Award and invited her business partner, Leila Hoda, “without whom this would not be possible” to the stage as well. The granddaughter of Salvatore Ferragamo designs and crafts environmentally conscious leather jewellery under her own brand, SO-LE Studio.

Ferragamo told the audience she was “honoured and flattered” to receive the award.

Sole Ferragamo (left), co-founder of SO-LE Studio, with business partner Leila Hoda

“I hope that I will be able to create a business that is as successful as the ones our fathers and grandfathers did and I will put all my efforts in this but I cannot guarantee [success]. What I can guarantee and promise is that I will try to support young businesses like ours, like you all are doing with us, so thank you very much.”

At the podium, Hoda said she was inspired by the testimonies of speakers during the European Families in Business Conference, the first day held before the awards.

“I have not had the opportunity to be in a community like yours that brings so many entrepreneurs of the same background. It has been really inspiring to hear all of your stories and I hope as a first-generation business owner I can follow in your footsteps, your fathers’ and your grandfathers’ footsteps and make the difference that you all have made in many people’s lives.”

The award for Top Family Business Rising Star was presented to Lydia Forte, the second-generation member of the Forte family and the group director of food and beverage at Rocco Forte Hotels. 

She said the hospitality group was the epitome of a family business.

“My father’s the chief executive, my aunt does all the interior design and is also on the board, my brother and my sister also work in the business. As such, I’m very much part of a team and I could not have done any of this without any of them.

(L-R) Tim Jenkins, Lydia Forte, Jean-François Mazaud and Nicholas Moody

“Huge thanks for the support and expertise from my father, as well as from my aunt, but also for having my brother and sister to be able to bounce ideas off of and understand that my ideas are not just mine, but maybe they represent the perspective of the next generation as well.

“I love working with a family team [and] the broader family as a whole, meaning all the people that work in the hotels. As you all know, hospitality is very much a people business, and I do what I love so I am very lucky and very honoured for this award.”

In a first for the awards, the Top Family Business Leader was awarded to not one, but two recipients: Matthieu Leclercq, chairman of Decathlon and son of founder Michel Leclercq, and Gabriel Escarrer Jaume, executive vice president and chief executive of Meliá Hotels International and son of founder Gabriel Escarrer.

Leclercq said he was pleased to receive the leadership award because there was a big difference between being a manager and being a leader.

“I think managing is about incremental changes, making things better, and leadership is about changing the status quo and changing the organisation, and that is where we are in the world. I receive [the award] as an encouragement to keep the change, keep the path, and make sure Decathlon will be here in the next 40 years, trying to make sports accessible for the many.”

Escarrer was unable to attend the ceremony, but José Gras, operations director for regional Spain at Meliá Hotels International, accepted the award on his behalf.

(L-R) Tim Jenkins, Matthieu Leclercq, José Gras, Jean-François Mazaud and Nicholas Moody“Gabriel Escarrer Jaume is leading the company as chief executive and executive vice president, so he is an example of a well-planned generation pass over from his father, Gabriel Escarrer, who founded the company in 1956,” Gras told the audience.

Jaume “is leading the revitalisation process at the company and he is really making the company change in these last years in a way that is making us all very proud. We recognise how a well-structured board, together with family values, are making the company each year a little stronger.”

The winner of the Top Non-Family Director Award was Pablo Isla, chief executive of Inditex, the world’s largest clothes retailer by sales since 2005.

In his prepared statement read to the audience, Isla said the award was “a great honour given the other shortlisted candidates and I am sorry that I was not able to be there in person to collect it however, I am focused on final preparations for our results release. I wish you all a very enjoyable evening.”

The prestigious gala dinner and awards at Madrid’s Westin Palace was held in partnership with Societe Generale Private Banking (SGPB) for the seventh consecutive year. The Paris-based company has operated in Spain since 1906 and has branches in Madrid and Barcelona.

CampdenFB European Families in Business Awards 2018 gala dinner

SGPB head Jean-François Mazaud, who presented the evening’s awards, told the audience that the Spanish economy had undergone an important transformation over the past few years. That transformation could not have been possible without family businesses, Mazaud said.

“We measured that family businesses were responsible for 89% of the activity generated by private companies in Spain. The contribution to the wealth of the country, the modernisation of the management, and the international expansion of Spanish companies has been major over the years.

“Their great effort to expand abroad has had an important reward in terms of growth and recovery, activity and competitiveness.

“Their contribution in maintaining and creating jobs during difficult times, like the recent (Global Financial) crisis cannot be forgotten.”

Tim Jenkins, global business commentator and former BBC News journalist, returned as master of ceremonies. Jenkins said the multigenerational families in the ballroom had “weathered wars, strange economic policies, maybe the odd dynastic squabble and certainly economic downturns.” But he urged members to “enjoy winning the battles ahead and the process of creating something new.”

Among the guests were past winners, including Andrea Prym-Bruck, part of Germany’s oldest family-owned business Prym Group, who accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 with her adult children, and 2016 next-generation entrepreneur winner Bottletop founder Cameron Saul. Members of the judging panel present included Denise Kenyon-Rouvinez, family business professor at the Swiss-based IMD Global Family Business Center and Harri Broman, chief executive of Broman Group. 

Nominations for the European Families in Business Awards in 2019 will open this December but you can submit your nominations now by visiting the awards section of or emailing

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