Nine companies keeping it in the family

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You might be forgiven for thinking that family values have become less important to today's big business.

Yet some of the world's most famous companies and brands – a few more than a century old – have remained under the control of the families that founded them.

CNBC takes a look at nine of the biggest family brands, and charts their history from small concerns to global powerhouses.

By Anmar Frangoul, special to

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Founded: 1952

Broadcast in over 170 countries, WWE is the world's most successful professional wrestling company, famed for its high-octane live shows and stars such as Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock.

Its history dates back to the Capitol Wrestling Corporation, which was co-founded by Jess McMahon in 1952. Son Vincent took over the business and, together with Toots Mondt, formed the World Wide Wrestling Federation in 1963.

In 1982, Vincent K. McMahon, pictured, bought the business – now known as WWE – from his father and turned it into a global phenomenon. Today, McMahon is both chairman of the board of directors and CEO.

Mars Inc
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Founded: 1911

At the turn of the century, Frank C. Mars began making candy at his home in Tacoma, Washington. By the 1920s, Forrest E. Mars, Frank's son, joined the business and oversaw the company's expansion in confectionery, pet care and food manufacturing.

Forrest acquired his father's business in the 1960s, naming the company Mars, Incorporated. Today Mars is responsible for a range of world famous confectionery brands, from M&Ms to Mars Bars and Snickers.

Private and family owned, the company's board of directors are members of the Mars family.

McCain Foods
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Founded: 1957

Founded by the McCain brothers Wallace, Harrison, Robert and Andrew, Canadian multinational McCain Foods specializes in frozen foods.

Originally operating in Canada, the company expanded in the 1960s, entering the British, Australian and American markets, as well as opening a French fry factory in Scarborough, northern England.

McCain has continued to grow. A multibillion-dollar company, it has 46 factories and 18,000 employees around the world. Today, four members of the McCain family – including Allison McCain, the company's Chairman – sit on McCain's operating board of directors.

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Founded: 1927

The history of the Marriott Corporation began in 1927, when J. Willard Marriott and his wife, Alice, set up a root beer franchise in Washington D.C.

Thirty years later, in 1957, Marriott moved into the hotel trade, opening what the company describes as, "the world's first motor hotel," in Arlington, Virginia. Managed by Bill Marriott, J. Willard's son, the 365-room hotel set the company on the road to becoming a global leader in hospitality.

Today, the company operates over 3,900 hotels across the world and reported revenues of almost $13 billion in 2013.

Bill Marriott stood down as CEO in 2012, but remains executive chairman and chairman of the board, while Deborah Marriott Harrison acts as global officer of Marriott Culture and Business Councils.

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Founded: 1962

In 1962, Sam Walton opened the first Walmart store, in Rogers, Arkansas. In just five years, the Walton family had opened 24 stores, and by the 1970s the company had become a national supermarket chain.

Today, Walmart employs over two million people, operates 11,000 stores and serves more than 200 million customers in 27 countries. Rob Walton, son of Sam Walton, has been chairman of Walmart's board of directors since 1992.

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Founded: 1895

Daniel Swarovski founded the company after inventing a machine that enabled him to cut crystals with great precision.

Based in Wattens, Austria, in 2013 the Swarovski Group – comprised of the Swarovski Crystal Business, Swarovski Optik and Tyrolit – reported revenue of just over 3 billion euros ($3.8 billion) and employed over 30,000 people.

The company is run by an executive board of five fifth-generation family members: Robert Buchbauer, Daniel J. Cohen, Markus Langes-Swarovski, Mathias Margreiter and Nadja Swarovski (pictured).

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
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Founded: 1899

The company now known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) traces its roots back to the end of the 19th century, when Turin businessman Giovanni Agnelli founded Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (FIAT).

Known for its iconic cars such as the Fiat 500, pictured, FCA's Chairman is John Elkann, the grandson of Gianni Agnelli, while Andrea Agnelli – chairman of soccer club Juventus – is a non-executive director.

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Founded: 1841

C&A was founded by brothers Clemens and August Brenninkmeijer with the aim of offering consumers, "good quality, ready-to-wear clothing at affordable prices."

Today the company - named after its founders' initials - is still run as a family concern. It has more than 1,500 clothing stores around the world, from France and Belgium to Mexico and Brazil, and employs over 37,500 people.

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Founded: 1937

One of the world's most recognizable and successful makers of automobiles, the Toyota Motor Co., Ltd, was established just before World War Two by Kiichiro Toyoda, one year after Toyoda had launched a passenger car, the Model AA.

Today, the Toyota Motor Corporation's President is Akio Toyoda, and the company – known for cars such as the Prius, a hybrid car – employs over 330,000 people worldwide.