A unique international gathering between Middle Eastern and Italian family businesses – the “Continuum Family Business Visit” – was successfully held from 1 – 4 March. Organized by Tharawat Family Business Forum in partnership with Pisa Orologeria, Borsa Italiana, part of the London Stock Exchange Group and the Associazione Italiana delle Aziende Familiari (AIDAF), the program provided 25 Middle Eastern family business members with an opportunity to visit prominent Italian businesses in Milan, gaining valuable insights into the operations and strategy that have made them so successful.
The program consisted of six guided visits to Italian family businesses hailing from a variety of backgrounds and industries. The hosting companies included market leaders Mapei, Sabaf, and Pirelli as well as Chateau D’Ax and Isagro. The Tharawat members were welcomed and hosted by the respective owners and executive management.
As part of the Continuum Family Business Visit, a networking event was hosted at the Borsa Italiana attended by over 40 members of Italian family businesses from various sectors, such as textile, banking, shipping, oil and gas, and manufacturing. At the event, speakers from companies such as Tonino Lamborghini, Plastifil, Almajdouie Group and Essa Al Ghurair Investment presented their companies and inspired vivid discussions on the potential for collaboration between Italy and the Middle East.
The Continuum Family Business visit started at Pisa Orologeria’s new flagship store in Via Pietro Verri, Milan.
Continuum Family Business Visit in Milano started on a note of elegance at the new flagship store of Pisa Orologeria a multigenerational family business and the largest watch retailer in Italy. In a first discussion family businesses compared notes on growth interests in Italy and the Middle East. With an intervention of AIDAF we were on a journey towards understanding the priorities of the Italian private sector.
Mapei is a world-leading producer of construction adhesives and chemicals.
Our next family business visit was Mapei the world’s leading producer of construction adhesives and chemicals. Led by 3rd generation member Veronica Squinzi we witnessed a presentation that clearly highlights the company‘s emphasis on R&D and continuity. Mapei reinvests all its proceeds into the company and of its 9,000 employees worldwide nearly 1000 are employed in research. The Squinzi family remains fully involved in the company.
Sabaf is the world’s leading gas cooker producer and has a strong emphasis on vertical integration.
Our second visit of the Continuum Family Business Visit took us to the world’s foremost producer of gas cookers Sabaf. The company which while listed at the Borsa Italian is still in family hands but professionally managed. Sabaf pursues a vertical integration strategy and designs the machinery it uses to produce its valves. After an impressive tour of the production facilities in Ospitaletto, we met with CEO Alberto Bartoli and learned more about the company‘s plans for expansion.
Chateau D’Ax is an innovation-driven furniture designer.
Day two of the Continuum Family Business Visit started with a visit to Chateau D’Ax a family-owned furniture company that exceeds expectations when it comes to innovation. Partnering with giants such as Microsoft and Samsung this family company is venturing fast towards designing the future of living.
Bougeotte visit in via Manzoni, Milan
During a quick visit to Bougeotte, participants met with the founders of the high-end luxury and fashion brand and were shown the clothing lines, accessories and furniture designed by the young designer Fayina Fridman, co-founder of the brand.
Isagro is an agropharmaceutical company and specialises in crop protection.
Our visit to family company Isagro was incredibly interesting. A leader in agro-pharmaceutical innovation, Isagro’s owner Giorgio Basile and his daughter Alessandra talks to members of Tharawat Family Business Forum and friends from AIDAF about the great importance of their products in a world facing overpopulation and climate change!
The Continuum Family Business Visit ended at the beautiful Pirelli headquarters in Bicocca, Milan.
Visiting Pirelli to end our Continuum Family Business Visit was a truly fantastic experience. By visiting the Fondazione Pirelli we were taken through over 140 years of the family company‘s achievements which is documented in a 3 km long archive. We were guided through the Bicocca facilities witnessing the testing of the famed tyres and finally were honoured to be addressed by Alberto Pirelli himself who told the Tahrawat Family Business Forum gathering about the R&D Pirelli invests in and why it continues to outdo the competition.
Dr. Hischam El Agamy, Founder of the Tharawat Family Business Forum, said: “We wanted to introduce our members to family companies active in different industries and who have taken different approaches to internationalization, diversification, and ownership. One of the most inspiring take-aways has been to see how much effort and capital Italian businesses invest into R&D. A remarkable commitment that shows tangible growth and creates competitive advantages.”
As the struggling global economy in 2016 continues to cast a shadow on business sentiment throughout Europe and the Middle East, the Continuum Family Business Visit to Milan was undoubtedly an invaluable opportunity for family business participants to not only learn from one other and engage in positive exchange but also to explore new partnerships and create opportunities for investment. With the success of this inaugural visit, the Tharawat Family Business Forum has expressed its intentions to design similar events for its members in the future.