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Cotswold Life Family Business Awards 2017 logo Cotswold Life Family Business Awards flying high advert

We're thrilled to announce our sixth year of the Cotswold Life Business & Professional Family Business Award Winners.

Think family businesses, and many imagine small, well-established firms with a board made up of close-knit parents and their children, perhaps grandchildren, leading a handful of loyal staff. Businesses quietly forging ahead, innovating, dipping their toes into new markets, navigating the export minefield, doing what they've always done. But nothing could be further from the truth, particularly here in the Cotswolds.

Some of the UK's fastest-growing firms are family businesses, and this region is no exception. Think JCB - the £2.6bn company founded in 1945 by Joseph Bamford and still run by his son Lord Bamford, the Cotswold-based industrialist whose career spans more than five decades - and Dyson, the innovative vacuum company set up in Wiltshire by Sir James Dyson in 1991. Arcadia, the fashion chain is another. Then there's Specsavers, owned by husband and wife Doug and Mary Perkins and Somerset shoe empire Clarks, founded by brothers Cyrus and James Clark in 1825. Another is the Pentland Group, which owns a host of household name brands, including Speedo and Berghaus, and which holds a majority stake in JD Sports.

There are 4.8m family firms in the UK, according to the latest figures released by the Institute of Family Businesses. That's 88% of all private sector firms. They generate more than a quarter of GDP, employ more than 12 million people and contribute 20% of all the Government's revenue each year - a staggering £1.49bn, which outstrips the whole NHS budget. The figures are astonishing. Many of these family firms have been around for generations and what makes them special is their culture, their outlook, their values and commitment to staff. There's no doubt the family business sector is vital to the Cotswolds economy, and the UK as a whole. They're the driving force behind almost every industrial sector and the backbone of our communities.

It's why we're so delighted to celebrate the cream of the crop in this edition, by announcing the winners of our Family Business Awards 2018. Entries flooded in from Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Wiltshire - many from companies who have hitherto flown under Business & Professional's radar. And we were absolutely thrilled to read about their incredible achievements, particularly when the challenges they face are not inconsiderable. Competition, increased regulatory burdens - particularly tax and health and safety considerations - funding constraints and issues with succession planning are all cited in the IFB's State of the Nation Report.

To this end, PWC, which is currently talking to upwards of 2,000 family businesses to compile its 2018 Family Business Survey, has released its latest Next Generation Study. Titled Same Passion, Different Paths, it reveals 75% of next generation family business owners have big plans to drive their companies forward and that 82% know innovation is key - but only 15% think their own business has a clear plan. A quarter of next gens are struggling to get the current generation to give serious attention to their ideas. And just 7% think their firm is fit for the digital age - though this, surely, is where the next generation will come into their own? No, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for succession planning, for overcoming challenges, navigating risks, seizing opportunities.

This was writ large during the judging process: each company focusing on a different strategy to achieve future success. And as you'll see from our very worthy winners here, there is still much to celebrate in the sector. From food and farming champions to expert retailers, design houses to haulage companies, the old guard to the new kids on the block, we are lucky to count them among our numbers and applaud the contribution they make to the Cotswolds' business landscape.

Winners joined Cotswold Life and sponsors Hazlewoods for the awards presentation at the Old Court House in Cheltenham for drinks and canapés.

What is a family business?

A business actively owned and/or managed or worked in full time by more than one member of the same family. Such family businesses range from huge corporations to local ‘mom and pop’ retail stores, the family farm or other commercial business. As a family business passes from one generation to the next, children will learn the job from at an early age. In any other sector this could be seen as child labour, but in a family business is more often referred to as ‘helping mum and dad’ and the children enjoy being involved and learn valuable skills directly related to the family business at a much younger age.

A message from our sponsor Hazlewoods:

Family businesses are truly unique and are the backbone of the UK’s economy. Ruth Dooley, Partner in Hazlewoods Corporate Services Team, works closely with a wide variety of businesses. Ruth and the team regularly provide advice on the many challenges that can arise from a family business and help to avoid the pitfalls. This ranges from tax advice, ownership agreements, succession planning and much more. Hazlewoods aim to help family businesses create a more successful venture, drawing upon their unique strengths.

- Ruth Dooley

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