Family businesses continue to win the reputation game

Family businesses continue to outperform their non-family counterparts when it comes to reputation, according to a new study, which backs other data on the reputation of businesses run by families.

According to a recent KPMG study in Spain, the top three companies with the best corporate reputation in the country are all family businesses - Inditex , Mercadona and Santander. Although Santander doesn’t conform to a strict definition of a family business in terms of ownership, it is viewed in Spain as run by the Botin family. Inditex, which is the holding group that owns Zara, is owned by the Ortega family. Mercadona, a Spanish supermarket group, is owned by the Roig family.

The image of a company can be altered in a short time, but not its reputation…

The study follows the findings of the annual Edelman Trust Barometer. Released earlier this year, the well respected survey found that family-owned companies remain the most trusted of business ownership models among the public.

At a time when trust in business is low, following the financial crisis of 2008, family businesses will no doubt be pleased with the findings of these two studies. Indeed, as Family Capital has reported previously, the perception of trust is leading to many family businesses openly branding themselves as family-owned.

Nevertheless, the Volkswagen emissions scandal - the carmaker is family-owned - probably won’t help the case of family-owned groups when it comes to reputation, particularly as there appears to be few efforts on the part of the Porsche-Piech families to improve governance since the scandal broke.

Although, as the author of the Spanish study, said: “The image of a company can be altered in a short time, but not its reputation…” Hopefully, for VW - which for many years grew rapidly, but at the same time scoring well on reputation parameters - this proves true.