Family Businesses in Italy


Across all continents, family businesses represent a key component of each area’s economy, not only in terms of their numerical impact but above all thanks to their contribution to GDP and employment.

In Italy there are estimated to be around 784,000 family businesses – more than 85% of the total number of business [1] – constituting around 70% of employment. In terms of the impact of family businesses, the Italian context is in line with that of the main European economies such as France (80%), Germany (90%), Spain (83%) and the UK (80%), whilst the factor that sets Italy apart from these countries is the lesser recourse of family businesses to external managers: 66% of Italian family businesses are fully managed by family members, while this applies to only 26% of French family businesses and just 10% in the UK.

Italian family businesses are also set apart by their longevity: of the world’s 100 oldest businesses, 15 are Italian and, of these, 5 – Fonderie Pontificie Marinelli (founded in 1000), Barone Ricasoli (1141), Barovier & Toso (1295), Torrini (1369) and Marchesi Antinori (1385) – are among the top ten oldest family businesses still active today.

Medium and large family businesses: AUB Observatory

In the small to medium-sized business segment (turnover >50€MIL), there are around 4,000 family businesses with an incidence of around 58% of total turnover for that segment and around 3 million workers.

In terms of distribution across different business sectors, family businesses monitored annually by the AUB Observatory – around 2700 businesses in its 5th edition – are primarily concentrated in Manufacturing (around 43%) and Commerce (28%), whilst Financial and Real Estate (12%), Services (8%), Construction (4%), Transport (3%) and Energy and Extraction (2%) are less significant.

From a geographical point of view, 74% of medium-sized and large family businesses are found in the northern part of the country, 16% in the south and 10% in the south and islands.

Listed family businesses

Numerically speaking, family businesses represent around 60% of the Italian shareholding market (with a total of around 190 companies recorded), accounting for around 25% its capital weight.

Specifically, medium-sized and small family businesses are listed, particularly in the Industrial and Consumer Goods sectors.

Almost 90% of family businesses are listed in the MTA (Mercato Telematico Azionario (screen-based stock exchange)), of which around 30% in the STAR segment, with the remainder found in AIM Italia (alternative stock exchange market).

In view of supporting family businesses in their ongoing survival and transition process and promoting their development at a time of rapid changes, AIdAF has created a community of skilled partners charged with the task of providing knowledge and information, entrepreneurial culture and growth and development opportunities for associated family businesses.

[1] Total Italian companies required to file financial statements