Derbyshire based knitwear manufacturer named ‘Best UK Family Business, Northern England and the Midlands Region, £5-25m turnover category’

Derbyshire based knitwear manufacturer named ‘Best UK Family Business, Northern England and the Midlands Region, £5-25m turnover category’

John Smedley Limited from Matlock, Derbyshire, has been named ‘Best UK Family Business, Northern England and the Midlands Region’, in the £5-25m turnover category of the Coutts Prize for Family Business 2008/9. The company will now go on to compete in the £5-25m category at the national finals to be held in central London on 23rd June 2009.

Founded in 1784, John Smedley Limited is a seventh generation family business that manufacturers fine gauge knitwear which is exported to 35 countries. Employing 450 staff, and with 57 family shareholders the companies long terms strategy is to remain in business for another 225 years, continuing to manufacture its products in the UK, while remaining an independent family business. John Smedley uses the finest Merino lambswool, silk, Sea Island cotton and cashmere and distributes to many of the worlds most prestigious outlets.

Lucy Armstrong, Regional Chair of the evaluation committee commented:
“To have survived and thrived as a family owned textile manufacturer in the UK for 225 years is an outstanding achievement. The judges felt some key factors in their operations today will ensure Smedley goes on to further prosperity. As a successful seventh generation family business, other things that impressed the evaluation committee about John Smedley included:

the fact that the company has survived and thrived as a family owned textile manufacturer in the UK for 225 years
the way that formal meetings and focus on strategic planning have ensured the business has adapted to changing markets. In addition, innovation and creativity in manufacturing and design, allied to a willingness to invest, have positioned the business well to compete in international markets
the way the family are kept abreast of business developments through regular communications
the sense that the business adds value to the family as well as the family adding value to the business; and
the family’s willingness to introduce new blood, and non-family directors to drive for future business success.”
Ian Maclean current Chairman and 7th generation family member commented “John Smedley is a luxury British knitwear brand that celebrates its 225th anniversary this year. We are very proud of our heritage and our longevity and this prize endorses our belief in a family continuity throughout the years and of course in our garments. We believe in moving with the times to meet the many changing fashion and economic changes and we look forward to the future with optimism and enthusiasm knowing that our quality knitwear is appreciated by many throughout the world.”

Juliette Johnson, Senior Family Business Adviser, Coutts & Co added “We’re delighted to provide recognition to this special family business and showcase their achievements for the benefit of other family businesses. What really shines through is the strength of the family’s values. These influence how and why things get done and act as the glue binding the family and business together. These strong values, coupled with their innovative approach and long term planning, should give them the best possible chance to weather this current economic downturn.”

With the current economic downturn, businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to survive, which therefore increases the value of recognising these family businesses and their work. The companies that scored most highly were the ones that were able to give examples of what they had achieved.

Mark Evans, Head of Family Business, Coutts & Co, commented: “Success factors that can help family businesses adapt to the current economic downturn are at the heart of the fourth Coutts Prize for Family Business. It will be equally important to take active steps to manage the family as well as the business to survive the current recession.”

The Coutts Prize for Family Business recognises the best run family businesses in England and Wales, and is the only regional and national awards programme in England and Wales celebrating the overall best performing small, medium-sized and large family businesses. The Prize, compliments Coutts successful Forum for Family Business Owners that is held throughout the UK.

The Coutts Prize recognises firms in three categories (£1m-5m, £5m-£25m, £25m+) that demonstrate a combination of high standards of family governance and corporate governance, a competitive market position, consistent financial growth, and a track record of charitable giving or involvement in local community. Entrants must be companies or firms where two or more family members together have control of over 25% of the voting shares and consider themselves as a family business.

More specifically, the independent evaluation committee was looking for examples of best practice including;

the strength of the family’s values;
the involvement of the family;
communication and planning;
the separation of ‘ownership’ and ‘management’;
the use of external, independent advice;
the development of a succession planning process;
next generation development;
conflict management; and
philanthropy and charitable involvement.
The independent evaluation committee is overseen by Roger Pedder, former Chairman, between 1993 and 2006, of C&J Clark Ltd (Clark Shoes), one of the UK’s largest private family companies. It was established in 1825 and is in its sixth generation. Clarks is the leading shoe retailer and brand in the UK and has significant positions in North American, European and Far Eastern markets. Roger remains Chairman or Non-Executive Director of several private family and private equity backed companies and runs his own company, Fullzone Limited

The evaluation committee for the Northern England and the Midlands region includes: Lucy Armstrong, Chief Executive, The Alchemists (Northern) Limited; Miles Brough, Managing Director, Jesse Brough Metals International Limited; Dr Carole Howorth, Senior Lecturer, Lancaster University Management School; David Johnson, Director, Leaders Matter; Peter Leach, Peter Leach LLP; Christopher Oughtred, Former Chairman, William Jackson & Son Limited; John Williams, Chairman, Tomorrow’s Company.

Renowned cartoonist, Robert Duncan, will create a unique cartoon for each of the winners, to tell their own story. The cartoons are framed by second generation family business John Jones. Silver plaques are made by third generation family business, Piccadilly Jewellers of Birmingham.

Coutts Prize for Family Business, Northern England and the Midlands Winners

Turnover £1-5m
Turnover £5-25m
Turnover £25m+

Anglo Recycling Technology
John Smedley Limited East End Food PLC

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