Perspectives from ISB

Start-rite is a 200 year old shoemaking company based in based in Norwich England, with manufacturing bases in India and Spain. The firm was founded in 1792 and last year recorded profits of £635,000 on a turnover of £24.4 million. The company has over 180 staff. The ownership of the firm is distributed among more than 50 family members. It is headed by the 55 year old Peter Lamble. Peter is an eight generation family member to be actively involved in the business. However, he now wants to step down and be a part of the board as a non-executive member.

The dilemma facing Peter is that other family members are too young to take up leadership positions just now. Moreover, he realizes the need for high-grade management personnel to recharge the aging business. However, it is difficult to attract people with the desired quality because everybody realizes that it is just a stop-gap arrangement until the ninth generation takes over. In order to solve this deadlock, Peter is now offering attractive equity-based incentives, in the hope that the right candidate will take up the stewardship role.

It is not uncommon to find such leadership gaps in family businesses. It stems mainly from non-existent or faulty succession planning. Leaders are so busy dealing with day to day problems that the issue crops up only when it is too late. Particularly in situations like this one, it is not easy to quickly get a steward unless they are groomed from within the organization.

Source: Campden FB, October 16, 2015