The best family-owned businesses in the UK

Taking place on Wednesday 29 November at The Brewery in London, the 2017 Amazon Growing Business Awards will celebrate the finest entrepreneurial talent in Britain. We take a look at those in the running for Family-Owned Business of the Year.

According to the IFB, family businesses are the embodiment of being responsible. Often cited as the “bedrock of communities,” these companies are said to generate over a quarter of UK GDP.

A mish-mash of strong values, sustainable outlook and commitment – traits the IFB strongly associates with family companies – has ensured longevity even in harsh economic times, and it has been reflected in our 2017 Amazon Growing Business Awards.

From food to manufacturing, the eight companies in the running for Family-Owned Business of the Year show that you can persevere in any sector with the right attitude. Below, the teams note in 100 words what sets them apart from the competition.

Grasmere Gingerbread

Grasmere Gingerbread is unique. Now in its 163rd year, owner Joanne Hunter is a proud third generation custodian, fiercely loyal to Victorian founder Sarah Nelson’s legendary mouth-watering culinary legacy.

With husband Andrew and their three children, Yasmine, Eden Rose and Eamont, Grasmere Gingerbread is a true family affair. Everyone contributes, whether in bakery, front of house, outside events, digital marketing or packing.

Whilst it has evolved from deeply parochial village origins in northern Victorian England to current-day international ambassador for the UNESCO-recognised Lake District, Grasmere Gingerbread has not forgotten its roots because it has never pulled them up and left.

Harts of Stur

Big enough to cope, small enough to care! This sentence sums up our fourth generation family business perfectly. We have the infrastructure, skills and technology to be able to fulfil orders fast and efficiently.

What sets us apart from our competitors is our superb customer service and the fact that we genuinely care.

This is true from the time Harts of Stur founder, Walter Hart, shoed his first horse, to the current MD reviewing all customer feedback so that any complaint, however trivial, is examined, discussed and used as a benchmark on how we can improve our business.

Hay Hampers

Hay Hampers has been a family-run business for over 30 years. In July 2014, the company was taken over by the Da Re family.

With the second generation ownership, the company has reached a distinctive high end positioning in the gift hampers market and tripled the turnover from £700.000 to £1.5m in the last three years.

Hay Hampers offer a helpful, efficient and personal customer service that only a family-run business can have. Some of its employees have been working there for over 20 years. Hay Hampers is like a big, enlarged family passionate about food and wine.

KP Technology

KP Technology is located in the North of Scotland, in a small town called Wick. My dad, a physicist, owns and runs the company along with my mum, a software engineer. My sister (ten) has her own office.

My brother and I (19 and 21) work for the company while at university – we did the same when we were at school. This year we travelled around the world selling equipment often worth more than £100,000 to globally leading institutes.

We create equipment at the very frontier of what’s technically – or physically – possible, and a ten-year-old helps make it, and NASA buys it.

Mash Direct

Over the last 13 years, Mash Direct has grown into a £16m turnover, family run business that puts our customers at the forefront of our company ethos.

From handing out over 110k samples to get direct feedback and suggestions at consumer and public events, to engaging with our customers through our digital/social channels (a cumulative reach of over 5,000,000), Mash Direct brings a family face to the convenience food market and promote healthy living.

We also work toward combating food waste throughout the UK.


As Origin moves from strength to strength, the family ethos that the company was built on has remained at its very core. Even now, with over 270 employees, the family business is still going strong, with over 30 per cent of the workforce related in some way.

The high-quality products Origin offers, the unrivalled lead times it promises and a gold standard of service it provides have contributed to Origin’s success.

However, without its employees and its family culture, it would not be where it is today. Family is and always has been at the heart of Origin.

Amazon Growing Business Awards shortlistInspiring entrepreneurs and companies feature in Amazon Growing Business Awards shortlist

The 2017 edition of the Amazon Growing Business Awards will see the likes of CV-Library, webexpenses, Flight Club Darts and Revolut vie for accolades, with the awards shortlist featuring an abundance of talent.

PJ Care

PJ Care is a family owned provider of specialist neurological care and neuro-rehabilitation for people with progressive or acquired neurological conditions.

We are unique in what we do and we are changing the lives of people who on the whole would be in secure accommodation with little to look forward to for the remainder of their lives. We are helping with the acute shortage of acute beds in the UK.

PJ Care was established by Jan Flawn who has recently passed on the reigns to her son, Neil Russell –he is taking the company into its next expansion phase.

Uuni (Tapaninaho)

Uuni is truly unique. Our rate of growth is huge and whilst profitability is very important to us, so is being a company “for good”.

We are a values-orientated organisation and have designed our core values with the team. We have a professional development budget – also a personal development budget for each team member to ensure we invest in the people in our team.

We care about sustainability and plant a tree for every single Uuni oven and every 10kg bag of pellets we sell. We are known for exceptional customer experience. We have a large and passionate online community.

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About Author

Shané Schutte

Shané Schutte is the deputy editor of Real Business, with a particular specialism in employment and business law, human resources, information technology and sales/marketing.

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