Bailey Fisher hosts inaugural Private Markets Dinner at the Jockey Club - 28/06/17

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Bailey Fisher Executive Search was pleased to welcome leaders of ambitious family businesses to our inaugural Private Markets Dinner, in partnership with KPMG and Farrer & Co, in the world famous Jockey Club Rooms in Newmarket.

Andrew Moore, Partner and Head of the Private Markets Practice at Bailey Fisher, welcomed business leaders from family firms including Gressingham Foods; Mick George; Start-rite shoes and Notcutts for dinner and discussion around the impact of non-family members on family businesses.

Guest speaker, Adrian McGlynn of Weatherbys, shared insight into how the 7th generation family firm has not only retained its position at the heart of the horse racing industry but also thrived through being innovative and relevant.  Today, Weatherbys has 400 employees; an annual turnover of £45m; and huge international resonance, welcoming visitors from all over the globe to its offices in Wellingborough.

Adrian’s key points for business longevity for an established family firm:

  • Don’t deny your history; don’t try to be too modern. Be both conscious and proud, but ambitious.
  • Embrace change. Hermes has evolved from carriages, through saddlery to ties and scarves. Virgin used a powerful brand – the name above the door – to grow new and existing business.  Always keen to innovate, Weatherbys opened a laboratory in Ireland in 1985, which has diversified to become a bovine testing laboratory.

Adrian’s talk initiated lively discussion around the table on the evening’s topic of the impact of non-family members in family businesses.

Be mindful of cultural issues:

  • Family will focus on long term value, whereas professional managers may want short term profit.
  • Aligning and communicating family values is fundamental, in order to instruct and inform the management team.
  • Professional managers do not like being smothered by family decisions, and family members may not like non-family members driving too much change too quickly.
  • Can Non-executive directors play a role in mediation?

Hiring professional managers & retaining family members:

  • Hire people better than you.
  • Andrew Moore commented that it’s all about “fit”. When Bailey Fisher is hiring into family businesses, we take the time to understand the culture and intricacies.
  • Should family members be incentivised not to join the business, so that the business is free to hire the best people available?
  • Focus on competition and survival of the fittest, rather than purely on retaining family members. The City was used as an example, with the deregulation of Big Bang, which shook off complacency and the “old boy” network.
  • The decision on which members of the family are involved in the business depends on drive and enthusiasm. Natural selection through interest and competence.
  • The move to greater internationalisation could be a way to retain more family members in a firm, each running a different area of the business.
  • Horizons for non-family members working in a family business can be limited due to conservatism. When hiring externally, a business needs to consider what is the attraction for professional managers working in a family business?

Attendance at the Private Markets Dinner is by invitation.  The next event will take place in the Autumn.  If you are interested in finding out more about future Private Markets Dinners, please contact Andrew Moore, Head of the Private Markets Practice at Bailey Fisher.

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