These three Spanish family businesses in the top 120 in the world

by Lorraine Williamson
Mercadona - a top family business

MADRID – Spain manages to place a total of 11 companies among the 500 most relevant family businesses worldwide. This is evident from the World Family Business Index, which has been compiled by EY and the Swiss University of St. Gallen since 2015. 

This index ranks the 500 largest family businesses in the world based on their turnover and also analyses other information about these companies. This includes the number of employees, the diversity of their boards or their commitment to the environment. In general terms, one of the study’s conclusions is that family businesses grew twice as fast as the major global economies. 

Top 500 companies in the world

The 2023 edition to which CincoDías has had access shows that the three Spanish companies Inditex, Mercadona and El Corte Inglés are among the top 120. Another eight companies are in the remaining list of the 500 companies in the world that invoiced the most last year. 

Inditex, the company founded by Amancio Ortega, leads the podium of Spanish companies for the first time and ranks 51st. It is followed by Mercadona in 54th place and by El Corte Inglés which is in 117th place. 

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Acciona, Gestamp, Ferrovial, Grifols, Catalana Occidente, Antolin-Irausa, Prosegur and Técnicas Reunidas also rank among the 500 largest family businesses in the world. Together, these 11 companies represent a total turnover of €120 billion and employ 445,000 people. 

European companies less than before

Although the number of European companies in the ranking has decreased by 11% since 2017, companies from Europe continue to lead the territorial ranking with 228 companies. That is almost half of all family businesses in the world (46%). After Europe, North America follows with 30% and Asia-Pacific with 16%. According to the analysis, European family businesses have billed a total of three trillion dollars. 

Cogesa Expats

In addition, Europe is home to 14 of the 20 oldest companies in the table, including a 354-year-old company. By country, the United States has the largest number of family businesses (118), followed by Germany (78) and France (31). 

Related post: Spanish department store El Corte Inglés is in dire straits 

Well established companies

The ranking is still dominated by consumer companies. In 2023, they made up about 40% of the index, both in number and in business volume. The second most represented sector is industry and mobility, with 29% of the volume. 

Another fact that emerges from this research is the longevity of these companies. More than three-quarters (76%) have more than 50 years of seniority and experience. According to the researchers, this shows that the values applied by their management have managed to withstand market volatility for several generations. Figures that show the extent to which family businesses can maintain both their success and their succession over time. 

What is leadership like in these companies? 

Nearly half (45%) of the companies in the list have a family member as their CEO. Furthermore, 23% of the seats on the board of directors are occupied by family members. However, only 5.8% of the companies on the list have a woman as CEO. And just 23% of the board seats are occupied by women. 

The report highlights the driving effect that this type of company exerts on the rest of the economy of their countries where their weight is significant, such as Spain. “They have a long-term vision that drives innovation,” they emphasise in EY. 

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