There is a war to attract talent for all businesses, but one way family companies can win the war is through the values of their businesses, says Marc Puig, the CEO of Puig, the Spanish fashion and fragrance company.
“Our family business has a set of values – like the fact that our business has been around for a 100 years, or more – and those values are perhaps one of the ways we attract talent, and also keep talent.” Marc was speaking at the EY Family Business Summit in Monaco.
The third generation member of the Puig family said that it’s sometimes difficult to define what those values are. “It’s very difficult to write them down and it’s not because you write them down that people behave in a certain way,” he said. “But the values come through and work for us as a company.”
Marc also talked about the difficult period the business went through during the early 2000s when the company had grown rapidly after a series of acquisitions. “We had a problem digesting all these companies,” he said. This led Puig to take some tough decisions soon after Marc was appointed CEO, which included selling subsidiaries and closing factories.
Part of the process towards recovery for Puig was limiting the power of the family within it, despite the fact that Marc was appointed CEO. Marc called this process “self-disempowerment measures”, which saw the board limited to just two family members and the bringing in of many more non-family directors into not just the board, but committees within the business and the family holding company.
Asked about the next generation, Marc admitted that Puig sometimes struggles with how to bring the fourth generation into the business. “We have told them that they will not work in the company and that they have to find their own way…but if the board in the future thinks that a family member has an amazing job then they might be able to come into the business,” he said.
“But we have made the whole process very complicated.” And he added that this can create problems, because the family can become unattached to the business, particularly when the shareholder structure atomizes. “So we are struggling right now with the way forward for the next generation.”