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Succession planning

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My name's Brett Bannister, I'm Managing Director of Sportsshoes.com. We're a multi-channel retailer of sports shoes, sports clothing and sports equipment. We like to think that we provide sports gear for sports people. The business - Sports Shoes Unlimited - was initially set up by my father in 1982. He set up a retail outlet in Bradford. My name is Bruce Bannister. I started Sports Shoes Unlimited, as it was called then, in 1982 and it is now called Sportsshoes.com I think the benefits of transferring control to a family member is that there is a trust issue,and it's not that you don't trust anybody else, it's more that there's a trust that you're not going to disappear anywhere and that you're around for good. I think the other aspect is that there is a shared sort of belief and values in how the business should be run. Well, the basic benefits of passing on control is trust. The relevant experience that I sought, and I think this is a very important point, is that I worked for 10 years in an industry external to this one. I worked in marketing, advertising, direct marketing and new media and that proved very relevant for the business here which is, you know we've got a very strong direct channel which is mail-order and the website, but I also think it's very important for anybody really that if they're going to come into a family business, they should have some relevant experience so they're bringing something to the table and they've got some experience of industry outside of this one they're not going to be a mini-me of the person who's already in charge. I made sure that I was involved in lots of the decision-making processes probably for a year or two before I took over. Ultimately there were three directors in the business - myself, my sister and my dad. We shared a lot of the decision-making process anyway so that did stand me in good stead. So although it wasn't formal, I was involved in a lot of the decisions being made and that has proved invaluable really. The business took about a year to transfer control I would say, certainly from my sister to myself. She came in gradually less and less on a day-to-day basis so I was constantly seeking her advice and so forth during that time. I would say probably a year before I felt that I was in control of the business and also I think that until there was a general perception that I was. I think it can't always happen in a day, it's got to happen reasonably gradually. Establishing a slightly more formal forum for communications is very important because I think it gives… what we try and do, we have a monthly board/finance meeting and at that meeting there's the opportunity for me to seek advice or try and get some guidance on anything that I might be slightly struggling with, and equally I think it's the opportunity for my sister and my father to voice any concerns they might have about the direction the business might be taking or any decisions that are being made. It's really important to try and separate the emotion of running the business from the business side of it in a family sense because ultimately it is a place of work. So although, external to the business you might all fight, squabble, shout at each other - as lots of families do - when you're in the workplace you've got to take a breath, you've got to take a step back because what can happen is you can lower the tone of the business if you are all going at each other's throats and I think you've got to remember it's a place of work - other people are coming to work without that family involvement. I certainly feel he's done a really good job in letting go actually and he's really supported both his children with that. I'd like to think it's because he's confident that we can do an ok job but I suspect if you asked him the same question, he would say it was very difficult. Passing over control of the business is exceptionally difficult because you're used to making all decisions, all major decisions and that is borrowed or stolen or passed on and that's the hardest thing I think. If I had one piece of advice for anybody who's thinking about going into the family business, I would say think long and hard about it, but do it, because it's a fabulous opportunity and it's a great opportunity for your life really, to work for yourself, to make your own decisions and to have control of your own destiny. What surprised me most was how well they've done. I expected them to do well, don't misunderstand me, they're some bright kids well, they're not kids anymore, but I did expect them to do well but they have done better than I expected.

Video Details

Duration: 5 minutes and 28 seconds
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Producer: BusinessLink.gov.uk
Director: BusinessLink.gov.uk
Views: 54
Posted by: vecttra on Apr 14, 2012

Sportsshoes.com was established as Sports Shoes Unlimited in Bradford in 1982 by former professional footballer Bruce Bannister.
Here, Managing Director Brett Bannister talks about his experience of taking over the family business from his father.

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