where the founder has a close association with the brand, for example, fashion houses and high profile restaurants. Almost exclusively a fashion designer’s business bears the name of the founder and is extremely closely associated with that individual.
Appointing a successor seems to prove one of the most difficult exercises for an outgoing fashion house overlord. It is not entirely due to vanity which makes this such a complicated subject; there are sound business reasons for being so circumspect about appointing a new leader or an heir apparent. Filling the founder’s shoes must be carefully managed to avoid damage to the brand as the founder is invariably inextricably linked to the brand. In the fashion world, it seems it frequently proves to be a challenge too far, with many of the famous names staying on long after normal retirement age.
A family business can have a problem if it has been managed by simply relying on the next generation of family members without regard to competence or commercial ability; this may work whilst there is a guiding hand but once that is removed it can be a disaster. Simply because a person’s family name appears on the headed paper it does not mean that they are necessarily the best person to lead the firm. The question of ensuring the successful and profitable continuance of a business during the crucial transition of founder or significant leader’s retirement should be planned for a considerable time in advance enabling any problems, issues or potential clashes to be managed before anything has the potential to impact on the business. Ideally, the transition should be seamless and the workforce, as well as the professional service advisors of the firm, should be well prepared and comfortable with the successor.