News Stories · Family Business - Global Business

Brown-Forman wins 25th IMD Global Family Business Award, sponsored by Pictet

The award jury selected the maker of the world’s top selling American whiskey, Jack Daniel’s, for its focus on responsible family ownership, good corporate governance, brand building, sustainability, diversity and inclusion.
November 2020
 - IMD Business School

Brown-Forman, one of the largest American family-owned companies in the spirits and wine industry, has won the 2020 IMD Global Family Business Award, sponsored by Pictet.

The winner was revealed during a special session at the Family Business Network Global Family Gathering on Thursday, November 12.

“On behalf of our board, company and shareholders, I couldn’t be more grateful to IMD for this recognition, on our 150thanniversary – what a wonderful birthday present,” said G. Garvin Brown IV, Brown-Forman Chairman and a 5th generation family shareholder. “2020 has been a challenging year for so many of us, in so many communities, including in our headquarters city of Louisville, Kentucky. And so, winning an award like this is timely encouragement to us to continue to nourish our culture, brands, people, environment, shareholders and stakeholders, for their long-term health into the next generation, and the coming decades,” he said.

The award is recognized as the most prestigious accolade for enterprising families and celebrates the important role family businesses play in the global economy.

“Brown-Forman fits very nicely among the list of extraordinary companies that have received this award over the last 25 years,” said IMD President Jean-Francois Manzoni. “For 150 years, five family generations have grown Brown-Forman into one of the top ten largest spirits companies in the world with the next generations getting ready to follow in their footsteps, all the while remaining genuinely committed to corporate social responsibility.”

The publicly-listed, family-controlled firm was founded in 1870 by George Garvin Brown, a Kentucky pharmaceuticals salesman who first developed the idea of selling quality whiskey in sealed glass bottles. With more than 25 brands, the company now ranks as one of the top 10 global spirits companies.

“Brown-Forman is a global, multigenerational, family business which has built a number of successful brands over the past 150 years. Its dedication not only to environmental and social responsibility but also to diversity and inclusion made it clearly stand out from this year’s award participants,” said Rémy Best, managing partner of the Pictet Group.

“The jury was particularly impressed by Brown-Forman’s focus on best practice governance and strategy, its management of heritage and legacy, leading-edge brand and portfolio management practices, and a proactive sustainability agenda,” said Professor Benoit Leleux, IMD Global Family Business Award Director.

“The award process is extremely thorough, with an extensive vetting process and detailed due diligence overseen by an independent panel of experts and past winners,” added Marta Widz, IMD Research Fellow in charge of the evaluation process.

Swiss watch and jewellery maker Chopard crafted the award trophy in its Geneva workshop.

About the IMD Global Family Business Award

The IMD Global Family Business Award was created in 1996. The aim of the award, which provides a unique platform for sharing best practices and analyzing the economic backdrop, is to promote family businesses by highlighting the exceptionally high standards they are capable of and the many forms they may take.

About the award partners

In 1999, the Scheufele Family from Chopard joined forces with IMD and has since contributed the beautifully crafted trophy. In 2018, Pictet joined to further develop this highly acclaimed and prestigious award for large, old and global family businesses. The Family Business Network (FBN) continues to provide the perfect platform to celebrate the worthy winners.