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'And the winner is'… Hospitality company from Cornwall scoops Coutts national prize for family business

The Hotel and Extreme Academy Ltd was last night awarded the accolade of 'Best UK Family Business' in the £1-5m turnover category of the Coutts Prize for Family Business 2007/8. Faced with tough competition, the family competed in the final stage of the prize against home insurance building repair specialist Regent Development Ltd and international freight forwarding company Newbreed Freight Ltd to take home the top prize from the ceremony held at the Coutts headquarters in London.

The hospitality business in Watergate Bay, Cornwall has been in operation since 1967. Often described as a ski resort on a beach, the Hotel and Extreme Academy is a beach lifestyle destination, offering accommodation, restaurants, sports tuition, sports equipment and retail. Future planned projects include the development of an Eco-village and a destination spa. Since 2000, the turnover of the business has increased from £1.1m to £5m and the number of employees has increased from 10 to 95.

Roger Pedder, Chairman of the independent evaluation committee, commented: "As a successful second generation business, the evaluation committee members were impressed by:

  • The innovative transformation of the direction of the business over the past 10 years and the opportunity to create new revenue streams;
  • The way the second generation proved themselves by building and running a parallel business before taking over the family hotel from their parents;
  • The maturity about the way the business is run, despite a young management team;
  • The active use of independent advisers, non-family directors and business mentor; and
  • The family's outstanding approach to philanthropic activities, way beyond expectation for a business of its size, in helping to develop the JamieOliver inspired Fifteen Cornwall restaurant."

Mark Evans, Head of Family Business and Philanthropy, Coutts & Co, commented: "Most successful business people know about the importance of predicting and managing the strategic, compliance, financial and operational issues that could affect the success of their business. Successful family business owners however also have a process for managing family risks as well, so as not to see the business completely caught off guard by something unexpected like the sudden death of a family business leader or disagreement over who is entitled to own shares."

Coutts Senior Family Business Adviser, Juliette Johnson added: "What shines through is the strength of the family's values which have been embedded in the culture of the business over the years. These values influence how and why things get done and act as the glue binding the family and the business together. They encourage the family to develop as responsible stewards of the business which is a key factor to the successful evolution of any family business."

The Coutts Prize for Family Business recognises the best run family businesses in England and Wales within three turnover 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 the 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. The awards complement Coutts' successful Forums for Family Business Owners that are held throughout the UK.

More specifically, the independent evaluation committee look for examples of best practice including:

  • Communication and planning
  • Ownership succession
  • Leadership development
  • Conflict management
  • Non-family involvement
  • Next generation training
  • Community involvement

The independent evaluation committee is overseen by Roger Pedder. Roger Pedder was Chairman of C & J Clark Limited (Clarks Shoes), one of the UK's largest private family companies, from 1993-2006. 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. He remains Chairman or Non-Executive Director of several private family and private equity backed companies and runs his own company, Fullzone Limited. Roger is also Treasurer of the University of Bath.

As in previous years, winners can choose to work with a distinguished writer who will be commissioned to create a unique biography, or with an experienced portraiture photographer, who will be commissioned to create a special family album. Each of the winners who select the biography will receive twenty-five specially bound copies of the first edition. Those who select the album will receive a specially designed album of up to eighty photographs with personalised covers.

For the first time, winners can also choose to work with Duncan Ward, Principal Composer for the National Youth Orchestra and BBC Young Composer of the Year to create a classical, contemporary or jazz musical composition to be used on the company website, in film clips and promotional videos, or on telephones. Winners who select this option will receive a beautifully bound score, together with a professional CD recording based on up to a maximum 10 players or singers and five minutes in length.

Over 250 people attended the awards and international singing waiters show, 'The Three Waiters'. Inspired by the winners' good work, Coutts organised a charity raffle and donated £5,000 to Horobin Ltd for the company to donate to a small independent charity or community organisation of their choice.

The National Committee Members were: Roger Pedder, former chairman, C & J Clark Limited; Andrew Allan, managing director, Active Assistance; Lucy Armstrong, chief executive, The Alchemists (Northern) Limited; John Freeman, family business specialist, Families in Business; David Frost, director general, British Chambers of Commerce; Jonathan Hagger, chief financial officer, Grosvenor Estate; David Harvey, chief executive, Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP); Michael Maslinski, director, Maslinski & Co; Edward Nicholson, managing partner, Mercator Partnership Limited; William Notcutt, deputy chairman, Notcutts Limited; Peter Bishop, deputy chief executive, London Chamber of Commerce; Chris Swaffin-Smith, principal, Family Business Reflections; Andrew Wates, chairman, Wates Family Holdings.

Nomination packs for the 'Coutts Prize for Family Business 2008/9' will be distributed between 1 September and 31 October 2008. To reserve a pack, email

For further information please contact Jo Thorne, PR Manager, Coutts & Co on 0207 957 2650/07855 411626 or e-mail

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the HONEY project through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The Hotel & Extreme Academy at Watergate Bay has received investment through HONEY.


Editor's notes:



Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
The Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

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