Winners of the Cotswold Life Business & Professional Family Business Awards 2017
PUBLISHED: 11:17 22 August 2017 | UPDATED: 12:51 22 August 2017
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From farms to retailers, manufacturers to jewellers, we applaud the contribution to both the economy and the diversity of our business landscape in the fifth annual Cotswold Life Family Business Awards. Here are our winners...
Family businesses are the backbone of the economy, the backbone of our communities.
So says the Institute for Family Business, and we couldn’t agree more.
Family firms come in all shapes and sizes – in fact, two-thirds of all businesses are family-owned. That equates to 4.7m in the UK alone, 17,000 of which are medium and large businesses. Many – like some of our winners – have been trading for hundreds of years. And in today’s economic climate, that’s no mean feat.
Family businesses generate more than 25% of the UK’s GDP and they employ almost 12.2m people, which amounts to almost half of private sector employment.
Incredibly, in the last financial year, they paid a whopping £133bn in tax – that’s 20% of total Government revenue. But what is it that ensures their longevity?
Sir Michael Bibby, chairman of the IFB’s research foundation, offers that it’s because owners often commit most of all of their investments to the company.
That they invest in their people through training and development, meaning staff turnover is lower than in many other sectors, and that they support their local communities through charity endeavours.
But we think it’s more than that. We think it’s because strong values run through the family firms that we’re lucky enough to have contact with – family values passed on through generation transition.
And because these companies embrace and embody responsible capitalism, ie they avoid excessive debt and take a sustainable approach to investment, they’re less likely to go under when tough economic times hit.
But that doesn’t mean family businesses come without their issues: the weight of expectation hangs heavy.
What happens if the son or daughter doesn’t want to run a manufacturing company? What happens if they’d rather spend their days playing drums in a metal band, or doing yoga in a Puglian trullo?
And how do they ensure, without fresh eyes and wider experience, that they’re innovating in the most effective way?
Last year, PWC released the 2016 Family Business Survey which addressed this issue – how to bridge the strategy gap.
Researchers interviewed 2,800 senior executives across 50 countries and found that half didn’t have a succession plan.
It was the eighth year of the survey and they found that though the key issues remained the same for family businesses, the dominant themes had shifted – first from scale and succession and then the need to professionalise both the family and the company. Now, they say, the shift is more fundamental; from short-term tactics to the long-term, with a real focus on strategy.
During the judging process for these, the fifth Cotswold Life Family Business Awards, this focus has been noticeable, and we’re delighted to celebrate their significant success. From the old guard – of which there are many which have been trading for more than a century - to the bright new kids on the block, family firms are thriving.
From farms to retailers, manufacturers to jewellers, we applaud their contribution to both the economy and the diversity of our business landscape.
Family Business of the Year
MF Freeman, Drybrook
MF Freeman is a dynamic family owned business operating divisions in residential and commercial property development, contracting, plant hire, farming and leisure.
Founded in 1966 by Mervyn and Jenny Freeman as a plant hire business in Drybrook in the Forest of Dean, it has evolved into a diverse and successful family firm.
When Luke joined his parents in 1996, he followed his passion for property, setting up the development divisions which have gone onto deliver hundreds of homes and more recently, retirement villages for the over 55s.
Richard Freeman later joined the family farming business, founded a commercial shoot and created the forestry division. His sister Rebecca runs the family owned venue, Bishopswood House.
Two generations of the Freeman family work within the group.
Of the eight-strong executive team, five are family members who lead the business alongside two NEDs.
Having grown from a two-person team to a business that employs over 100 people, the company very much remains a family-led organisation with strong family values.
The successful story of the evolution of the group over the years is due to family members following their dreams with the loyal support of employees.
It is due to the passion, hard work and focus on their overarching purpose of “Building for a Better Future” that makes MF Freeman today.
Family Business Exporter of the Year
Truturn Precision Engineering, Stroud
Truturn is an established first generation business celebrating 30 years of excellence in sub-contract precision engineering, embellishing strong succession planning within a local industrial base. Exports contribute 40% of its annual turnover, shipping products to China, Europe and the Americas.
The company has 35 employees and turns over £2.4m a year, with a sector base covering oil and gas, nuclear, agricultural, marine, defence, medical and automotive industries.
Anne Johnstrup, owner and Chairman for the past 30 years, has established a succession plan for the company by introducing her two daughters into the business. One has evolved to Production Manager, whilst the other works in business development, both covering the main operating functions of the business.
Focus has been on encouraging apprenticeships and developing Truturn’s partnership with SWMAS and its training facilities.
The business is only one of 43 in the south west has been awarded a gold Investors in People Award - an accolade awarded to just 1% of manufacturing businesses.
A significant achievement for the Stroud-based SME, Truturn has also completed the Fit 4 Nuclear business excellence programme and been championed as a Unique graduate of the scheme by NAMRC.
In addition to the firm’s established ISO 9001, it is also working towards ISO 14001 and OHAS 18001.
Employee of the Year
Barry Hancox, Fillet & Bone, Chipping Campden
Fillet & Bone is a dazzling new food emporium in the heart of historic Chipping Campden. Chris Gates and his partner Pat Willins bought the old L Smith Family Butchers in High Street, which had closed after 100 years of trading, towards the end of 2016.
Moving to the Cotswolds was part of their ‘pretirement’ plan, but demand from the town and a chance meeting with renowned hotelier and restaurateur Barry Hancox convinced them to reopen a butchers’ in March this year - but with a new purpose.
Still with meat as its centrepiece, Fillet & Bone now retails fresh fish, artisan bread and cakes, fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables and a huge selection of cheeses, charcuterie, deli goods and fine wines and spirits - many of which come from local Cotswold producers.
They have coined the phrase ‘urban farm shop’ to describe this new venture and to reflect the broad range of quality food products on offer.
Barry, formerly of Broadway’s world-famous Lygon Arms and critically-acclaimed restaurants Russell’s and Prego, The Daffodil in Cheltenham and Daylesford Organic Farm in Kingham, is Fillet & Bone’s Retail Operations Manager.
With decades of experience in the food business, Barry has hand-picked every product and every supplier.
From fellow award-winner and lamb producer Nolan Brook, to gin from Cheltenham-based Sibling Distillery and iconic Gloucestershire cheeses like Charles Martell’s Stinking Bishop, the shop is packed with a great selection of renowned food and drink products.
Food & Farming Excellence
Nolan Brook, Mickleton
Nolan Brook is run by Sam Walby and his partner Hayley Deaville.
Still only in their 30s, the couple, who met at the University of Falmouth, farm a 125-strong flock of pedigree Cotswold sheep on their family farm at Mickleton.
Thanks to 60 acres of lush grass on which they graze, Nolan Brook lamb and hogget is on the menu at many of of the Cotswolds most renowned hotels and restaurants.
Sam and Hayley supply the likes of The Chef’s Dozen in Chipping Campden - praised by Times restaurant critic Giles Coren as “the best restaurant outside London” - and its near neighbour and fellow Family Business Award-winner, food emporium Fillet & Bone.
Their lamb, slaughtered just 10 miles away in Long Compton, is in demand from chefs at Buckland Manor, too, and they’re also in talks with a regional supermarket chain to supply its in-house butchers’ counters with rare-breed steaks, joints and chops.
The son of a cattle farmer, Sam - an environmental management graduate - hand-reared his first lambs when he was just 12 and fell in the love with the breed.
Now, alongside their wholesale business, the couple can be found demonstrating at fine food festivals and they also run a busy wedding catering arm.
Best Start-Up Family Business
Persora, Pershore, Worcestershire
Persora is a fresh, young and dynamic new business in the heart of Georgian Pershore.
A true family-run enterprise, this contemporary interiors shop and gallery is in a carefully-renovated Grade II-listed property in the High Street.
The inspiration behind the business was to provide a luxurious shopping environment filled with quirky homeware and interiors accessories including furniture, lighting, art and sculpture.
These sit alongside an array of luxury gifts and jewellery from leading British designers, which have been carefully hand-picked and curated by the family themselves.
The business is run day-to-day by a sisters Aimee Graham and Sasha Hyde - who has a background in the construction industry - but managed holistically with two other important directors, their mother and father Cheryl and Tony who are also co-founders of Persora.
Since opening, the business has gone from strength to strength with an e-commerce website and a collaboration with the Cotswold Hare Trail.
Now in their third year of trading, the family has some ambitious plans for the future, including the addition of a bistro in 2018. Expansion of the brand into other thriving market towns across the region is also part of their strategy for Persora, which means Pershore in Latin.
Outstanding Contribution to the Local or National Economy
Clarkson Evans, Gloucester
Clarkson Evans is the market-leading electrical contractor specialising in wiring new homes. Last year the company wired 17,000 homes in England and Wales - that’s one in 10 of all new homes built. The electrical giant has 17 branches nationwide, employing over 800 people and with annual turnover approaching £46m.
The Gloucester-based company has grown considerably since it was founded as a ‘one-man-band’ 36 years ago by Chairman Steve Evans, who recently handed the role of Managing Director to his son, Nathan Evans.
Now the family business works with all of the UK’s leading house builders and this year it featured in the Sunday Times Profit Track 100 list, recognising the businesses with the fastest growing profits.
Instrumental to the company’s success is its continued investment in training apprentices and a focus on offering them long-term career opportunities.
Clarkson Evans currently employs over 250 apprentices and of its managers working in roles requiring electrical expertise, 83% joined the company as apprentices.
The career opportunities it has offered over the last two decades have transformed the lives of hundreds of young people.
Family Business Longevity Award
Mann Jewellers, Stroud
Mann Jewellers has been buying and selling gold in Gloucestershire since 1741. Originally opened by James Jew on The Cross in Gloucester, it was taken over by Jew’s apprentice William Mann in 1835, and remains in the Mann family to this day.
The company has expanded through the Cotswolds over the centuries and the Stroud shop is currently run by Brereton (Corr) Mann and his daughter Sophie Mann, assisted by manager Emma Taylor (RJ Dip). It has been in George Street for about 60 years, having moved from Bedford Street. There is also a branch in Wotton-under-Edge.
Although the main focus is on retail, a large part of the business is and always has been buying second hand jewellery and watches from the public, even before it became trendy.
Collectable watches and gem-set rings are bought from clients, along with diamonds and unwanted gold, platinum and silver jewellery, at a premium price and prepared for resale or scrap.
Repairs and remodelling are also a large part of the business, as well as valuations for insurance and probate and a thriving jewellery design division.
A new development is the sale of gold bullion to people who see gold as a sound investment.
The environmental impact of the business is at the forefront of the Mann operation, so the company minimises packaging wherever possible, using paper bags and cardboard jewellery boxes. With a focus on buying local and being green, its electricity is supplied by Stroud-based Ecotricity and telecoms from nearby Welcome and last year the firm even twinned one of its loos with one in Uganda.
Next Generation Family Achiever
Gerard Cooper, Allcooper, Gloucester
Gerard Cooper founded electronic and fire systems company Allcooper with his father in 1987.
Since then, the business has gone from strength to strength, supplying state-of-the-art systems to homes and businesses across Gloucestershire, the UK and overseas.
Joined shortly after the launch by Gerard’s brother Roman, Allcooper remains family-owned and run and has just celebrated its 30th anniversary with a move to a hew head office in Kingsholm.
Customer safety is at the heart of everything the Allcooper brand stands for, and recently, Gerard has set up a new division of the company dealing with high-worth clients in London.
His current role is as a specialist security consultant for the private client division, based in the capital, involves supplying the very best systems and levels of service from a trusted brand.
Under Gerard’s leadership, by working at the highest level and building Allcooper’s reputation through referral, the firm’s presence in London has grown and grown, and it is now working on several illustrious projects for high-end clients.
Fastest-growing Family Business
Hawkins & Brimble, Cheltenham
Based in Cheltenham, Hawkins & Brimble has seen incredible growth in the eight months since the brand was launched on to the market.
The new British men’s grooming brand includes in its range a shaving cream, shaving brush, shampoo, body wash, hair clay and beard oil.
Epitomising Cool Britannia, the products are cut from a different cloth and tailored to complement the modern man’s lifestyle.
All the products are made in England from simple and natural ingredients, without the harsh chemicals found in many products on the shelves today.
The scent of Elemi and Ginseng and the luxurious quality of barbering rituals is redolent of the range, which is packaged in monochrome and red with vintage lettering.
Hawkins & Brimble is already sold in 15 countries around the world and stocked in Waitrose, Boots, Mankind and Holland & Barrett and will be in Sainsbury’s by the end of the year.
Gift sets have been added to the range for Christmas 2017 and a referral scheme has been introduced on its website, which earns the referrer 10% on every sale.
Family Business Apprentice of the Year
Sophie Essex, Joedan Group, Tewkesbury
The Joedan Group employs more than 160 people and operates from four regional offices across the south of England and the Midlands, including its Tewkesbury HQ. From humble beginnings as a window and door supplier, Joedan has grown into one of the top ten aluminium fabricators in the UK.
It manufactures its own suite of thermal aluminium windows and doors, and installs them in private homes as well as large commercial projects for county councils and national building contractors.
The company employs 12 apprentices across departments from manufacturing to IT, marketing to installations.
Sophie Essex, 19, is an Administration Apprentice and has worked at Joedan for a year.
She displays all the hallmarks of becoming a highly valued employee. Sophie is training across all admin departments to learn the many different software packages each one uses. She is adept at reception work including customer facing responsibilities. She looks after all of the admin for the retail sales department, which has an annual turnover of £6m. She is also learning about the accounts department and how the accounting software works.
She is one of two female apprentices at Joedean, the other being a marketing apprentice a year younger than Sophie. The company believes apprenticeships should be open to all genders and orientations.
A huge reinvestment programme at Joedan has allowed the company, which has been family-owned and run for 30 years, now boasts some of the most advanced fabrication machinery in the world.
Retail Excellence Award
Michael Hart & Sons, Cricklade and Cirencester
A fourth-generation family butcher, Michael Hart & Sons offers excellent meat, award winning pies, homemade sausages and superlative customer service in its shops in Cricklade and Cirencester.
Customers travel from miles around to buy Hart produce, particularly its pies, and there is often a queue out of the door due to its well-known ethos of taste, quality and value.
The shop has made a huge contribution to the revitalisation of Cricklade High Street, increasing footfall and the viability and fange of shops.
Customers report excellent customer service and praise longserving staff - Hart family and others - for remembering all the names of their regulars and dishing up service with a smile.
In addition, the family has a strong community spirit and are heavily involved in local fundraising and events and generously provide raffle prizes to many local charities.
Winner of nine categories in the NFMFT National Supreme Product Championships and proud recipient of a Cirencester Business Award, the family has recently opened a shop in Cirencester, expanding the Hart brand but retaining the family values which has kept it at the top of its game.
Editor’s Choice Award
Direct Online Services, Gloucester
Father and son Martyn and Will Rees run Direct Online Services, the e-commerce retailer behind a host of well-known kitchen furniture brands indluding Worktop Express, Solid Wood Kitchen Cabinets, WEX Trade and deTerra.
Founded in 2008 with the aim of providing high-quality, solid wood kitchen components at affordable prices, the company has grown an average of 25% year-on-year. Its phenomenal success is largely due to to the launch of its flagship brand Worktop Express, which now offers the largest-stocked range of wood worktops in the UK.
The company now markets a comprehensive range of products direct to the public via a portfolio of nine websites, three eBay shops, six showrooms and several depots across the country. A successful in-house two-man delivery service was launched in 2011 and continues to grow.
While Worktop Express remains the flagship brand, newer divisions including Solid Wood Kitchen Cabinets and deTerra continue Direct Online Service’s ethos of promoting ethically-sourced, solid wood products, but this time in the form of solid oak kitchens.
All components are available to order online, giving customers a one-stop-shop for choosing their dream kitchen at the click of a mouse.
In October 2016, Direct Online Services securted a significant investment from the Business Growth Fund, allowing it to invest further in its staff, infrastructure, operations and marketing.
With the investment, it plans to expand Worktop Express into international markets and become the leading online worktop retailer in Europe. But despite its phenomenal growth, the company stays true to its family roots with a strong management team and a loyal workforce of almost 200, many of whom have been with the company since it started.