When it comes to old family businesses still run by the direct descendents of the founder, Japan can claim the two oldest in the world, founded before 750 AD. However Italy is not far behind with five family businesses in the 10 oldest in the world.

The Fonderia Pontificia Marinelli, bell founder to the Vatican, is the fourth-oldest business still run by direct descendents of the founder, who started the business of making church bells more than 1,000 years ago. The foundry at Agnone in the province of Isernia still uses the original techniques to make the bells and is run by two brothers, Armando and Pasquale Marinelli.

Among the other four Italian family businesses in the oldest 10 is Barone Ricasoli, producer of oil and wine, at fifth oldest, founded in 1141; Barovier and Toso, glass producer at Murano, founded in 1295, is the sixth oldest. The ninth oldest is Torrini from Florence, where the family business has produced and sold jewellery since 1369. The 10th oldest family business in the world is Antinori, which has been producing and selling wines since 1385, before the Medici came to power in Florence.