Perspectives from ISB

Michael Hill International, a jewelry business, launched in 1979 with one shop, today has 300 stores across Australia, New Zealand and North America. It is headquartered in Australia and last year had revenues of AU$505.6 million. The Hill family owns 53% of the shares.

Recently Michael Hill had to vigorously defend the appointment of his daughter to the position of chairman in the company he founded. Shareholder raised concerns about the chairmanship remaining in the family. Michael Hill stated: “It’s important to keep the company going as a family business so it’s not just a clinical, big business without romance and soul.” An independent director on the board also defended the appointment of Emma Hill, pointing to the competitive value of family-led brands as one reason why she made a suitable candidate.

Emma Hill is no novice to the business. She has worked in the business for 30 years, starting as a teenager working the shop floor. More recently, she established Michael Hill Canada, joining the board of directors in 2007. She became deputy chair in 2011. She plans to make the company a global brand with 1,000 stores worldwide. However her 10 stores in the US are currently operating at a loss.