WealthSpike: How gaffes can screw the next gen

We’ve all made them, but in most cases gaffes have little more consequences than causing momentary embarrassment. But gaffes can sometimes have more serious consequences. In the world of family business, those consequences can often undermine succession. Here’s an interesting example.

The other day, the well known British designer and businessman Jasper Conran resigned from the head of his family business Conran Holdings. The resignation, according to reports, happened the day after his father, the entrepreneur Terence Conran, gave an interview to the London Evening Standard. Asked in the interview whether he felt his son was doing a good job, Terrance said:  “He’s got a great sense of design. But I kept on saying 'I've got the experience and knowledge, I know things you don't. I know how to design furniture'."  

Of course, Terrance might not see the comment as a gaffe, but WealthSpike reckons he might not have expected his son to resign from the family business the next day. In that respect, it would appear to be a gaffe - and a pretty serious one. From Jasper’s perspective, reports say the resignation had nothing to do with his father’s comments. Nevertheless, there appears to be an extraordinary coincidence that the resignation happened the day after the comments, particularly given the fact that Jasper had recently revived sales at the family business.

The moral in the story - be careful what you say about the next generation, especially if you know it’s going to be made public.