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The grocer's son and the family business that turned into an award-winning international hotel chain

Gavin Faull grew up in Tikorangi thinking he would end up working in a grocery store and drive a delivery van just like his dad.

Instead, he and his three sons, Matthew, Oliver and Edward, were this week awarded the Legacy Family Business Award 2023 for their Swiss-Belhotel International operation of 125 hotels in 20 different countries that they own with their Hong Kong business partners.

Faull, Swiss-Belhotel’s chairman and president, is a brother of Sir Richard Faull, a world renowned neuroscientist.

While growing up in Tikorangi, Faull, the son of a grocer, had been expecting a different future than the one he had carved out for himself, he said.

“I thought I was going to grow up, work in a grocery store and drive delivery vans. And that was not attractive to me. So, I thought I should go out and do something else.

“It was good growing up out there – it’s the home of opportunity, makes you want to get out and do something else.”

He now has homes in Auckland and Urenui and offices in Sydney, Hong Kong and Jakarta, he said.

“I move around like a gypsy.”

The hotelier said the legacy award from the Family Business Association New Zealand was a bit of a surprise.

“There are a lot of family businesses in New Zealand and I think they’re trying to encourage them to develop a bit faster.”

The judges noted the Faulls were a benchmark multigenerational family business with industry leading growth across the family’s business portfolio.

“Blending the rising generation into the business into senior roles is never a simple process and having all three sons in teams supporting the business is a high achievement.“

And while many big family businesses are wracked by arguments, his family had avoided that, he said.

“That’s the way we’ve been brought up over a few generations and living in Tikorangi. But I also keep them living in different geographic locations,” he said, laughing.

But they all get together at Christmas where Faull talks more business than his family would like.

He said 18 months ago he thought it was the worst time to be in the hospitality business, but it’s got better. People are travelling again.

The important thing in the hotel industry was to understand the guests and what they want, he said.

“They have to leave with a positive attitude. It all comes down to service. Service is key. Management is key. It’s the people that make it.”

Last month it was announced that Faull’s company had signed a deal with a Chinese state-owned tourism company that could help him expand his chain of hotels from 125 to 530 in the next seven years.

The family also owns Faull Farms in Tikorangi, one of the largest dairy operations in the country.

“It’s a big business out there. I’ve been actively involved in it and my second son Oliver is general manager, but lives in Auckland.”

Though well into his 70s Faull had no plans to retire.

“My kids won’t let me.”

Source: Stuff NZ

The grocer's son and the family business that turned into an award-winning international hotel chain