FB in times of crisis: Grupo Pereira, Spain

June 26, 2020

As part of the series of interviews on “Family Businesses in Times of Crisis”, we are pleased to share the conversation of Rania Labaki, Associate Professor and Director of the EDHEC Family Business Centre, with Ruy Andrade Pereira, member of the third generation, in charge of External Relations and Business Development of Grupo Pereira in Spain. Established in 1955, Grupo Pereira is a vertically-integrated seafood group, with fishing boats operating in the Atlantic Ocean and factories and offices in 6 countries employing over 1.000 professionals. The COVID-19 pandemic had a ripple effect on the world economies and societies. How have the family and the business been particularly impacted? Our 20 fishing boats are operating from North to South into the Atlantic Ocean, from Canada to Falkland Islands. We have offices and factories in Spain and several countries in Africa such as Mauritania, Senegal, Namibia and South Africa. Our main concern at the beginning of Covid-19 crisis was to secure PPE´s for our crew and staff worldwide. We realized that timing and legislation in each country was different and that caused us many troubles. Secondly, we had to deal with borders closing in Europe and Africa with our seamen in transit. Thirdly, it was crucial to avoid contagion among our crews working in factories. Fortunately, we have been considered a special-interest industry and the authorities granted us special permission to work and travel in very limited conditions. Thankfully, we did not have any personal loss. With regards to the family, our main concern was to protect the health of our 95-year-old founder, patriarch and my grand-father. He comes to the office every day and it was difficult to make him understand that he should not come until the pandemic would decline. We did increase our informal communications and try to keep our founder up to date. How did these changes translate into initiatives (or strategies)? With regards to communication, we enhanced both internal and external communications. Internally, we created departmental chats using digital platforms. We also asked the seamen and the crew on the ground to participate in a series of videos supporting the Spanish, Senegalese and Namibian society, reassuring them that the food supply was not at risk (during the first two weeks of the lockdown there were shortage of certain items in supermarkets) and cheering them up with positive messages sent by our Captains on board of the fishing boats. As our seamen spend almost 6 months isolated on the fishing boat, they could teach us many life lessons about how to handle the lockdown with peace of mind. And they did it, by writing letters with tips and by sending support video-messages recorded at sea with their mobile phones. We shared these videos on our social media and the public reacted cheerfully and gratefully. This also helped to increase their sense of belonging to the company. Finally, we have strengthen our digital resources with a new software, online sales in the main platforms and online recipes to try and help amateur chefs to cook seafood in an easy and tasty way. Family businesses are known for their values […]

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FB in times of crises: The case of spanish family firms

June 19, 2020

Our 2020 Conference Chairs Maria Concepción López -Fernández, Unai Arzubiaga and José Carlos Casillas, share some insights on the current situation of family businesses in Spain and how they reacted to the recent global crisis. This article is based on data from the Spanish Family Firm Institute (Instituto de Empresa Familiar) and on an interview with its General Manager: Dr Juan Corona. In Spain 90% of private companies are family businesses, who create almost 70% of private employment and contribute about 60% of GDP. Thus, family businesses are regarded as the roots and backbone of the Spanish economy, guaranteeing stability, development and the welfare state. The Coronavirus emergency has with no doubts changed everyone’s lives lately. What has been the impact of the recent emergency on Family Businesses in Spain? In the case of Spain, the declaration of the state of emergency has resulted in a significant reduction in the volume of activity, although it is true that with very important differences between the different sectors, since some of them have not been affected by pandemic control measures, while in others the drop in activity has been literally 100%. At the same time, compliance with sanitary protection measures has forced the remodelling of many of the business facilities, and even modified the operation of their production chains. Despite this, significant efforts have been made to reduce the drop of employment, achieving generally very positive results. How did these changes translate as companies’ initiatives (or strategies)? In this sense, family businesses are taking advantage to modify some of their strategic behaviours for the future, both internally and externally. In this respect, remote working procedures that were already being carried out in the leading companies are being greatly reinforced by the development of technological platforms and by changes in the company’s work culture. On the other hand, sales procedures are also intensifying through e-commerce platforms. What are the challenges in the short term? And in the long term? Indeed, family companies, and especially the larger ones, are using this period of great restrictions on productive capacity in order to redesign the organization and internal operating procedures. At the same time, they are working on the diversification of suppliers and raw materials, both geographically and technologically, in order to be better prepared for possible similar crises in the future. Will there be any side effects for the “Made in Spain” market? The image and prestige of large Spanish family businesses will be greatly reinforced because of the response they are offering to the crisis. The establishment of strict measures to protect the health of its workers, the efforts to preserve the level of employment, as well as its important work in solidarity actions, are undoubtedly generating a very positive assessment by both workers and society. What are the responsibilities of Spanish family businesses as ambassadors of their territory? One of the essential characteristics of family businesses is their embeddedness in the territory, which is why, immediately, our companies began to help the public administration, both at the state and regional level. The fact that they are strongly internationalized companies contributes, in a very […]

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FB in times of crisis: Cheung Ah Seung Ent., Indian Ocean

June 12, 2020

As part of the series of interviews on “Family Businesses in Times of Crisis”, we are pleased to share the conversation of Rania Labaki, Associate Professor and Director of the EDHEC Family Business Centre, with Jean and Jean-Alain Cheung-Ah-Seung, third generation members in charge of the Operations of CHEUNG AH SEUNG Enterprises based in the Indian Ocean (Reunion Island and Mayotte). Founded in 1964 by their grand-father who emigrated from China at age 13, CHEUNG AH SEUNG Enterprises is a medium-sized group of specialized service companies that strive to offer their customers turnkey and packaged solutions powered by 5 areas of expertise: logistics and transportation, lifting, construction equipment, maintenance, and removal. The COVID-19 pandemic had a ripple effect on the world economies and societies. How have the family and the business been particularly impacted? Youngsters from the 3rd generation, who are studying overseas, had to stay home and followed their distance-learning courses. Lockdown away from home was not easy to handle but they showed great solidarity between them. We created a task force to exchange intel from our different industries but also to quickly take the necessary measures to protect the family integrity. Regarding the family real estate assets, we have been trying to assist our tenants as much as possible. As for the Operations, the pandemic variously impacted our different business units. Some of these business units, such as our removal companies, had to thoroughly stop their activities. Similarly, all construction sites closed down, impacting our equipment rental and lifting activities. On the other hand, businesses like industrial maintenance, logistics and transportation never stopped. We guaranteed a service continuity for our customers in charge of vital activities. In the meantime, the on-call duty service was reinforced. The diversity of our industries has always been a managerial challenge on a daily basis. This said, we developed some kind of natural resilience and agility that helped us face the ordeals. Thanks to the commitment of every employees (office staff, truck drivers, sales rep, technicians, managers, executive committee members, head of business units) and the agility of the organization, we managed to curtail the loss of revenue to 30%. In Mayotte, our main concern was the complex social climate. Luckily enough, the team natural resilience is helping them to navigate quite well through the crisis. How did these changes translate into initiatives (or strategies)? Firstly, neither the 2nd, nor the 3rd generation, ever faced such a scenario and we are handling the situation with great humility. We focused on our family values, on our employees and our customers. We are lucky enough to be able to share our opinions and experience with family friends, suppliers, customers and partners which helped us to decipher the trends. Moreover, the trust given by the 2nd generation made us more confident in the actions taken. At a very early stage, the Executive Committee, together with the managers, came up with and agreed on the following action plan: Focus on cash flow: everyone, at every level helped with the debt collection Protect our employees: we managed to maintain the salaries (yet we had to take hard decisions […]

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Family businesses in times of crisis: Pellini Caffè, Italy

June 5, 2020

As part of the series of interviews dedicated to “Family Businesses in Times of Crisis”, we are happy to share the conversation between Carlotta Benedetti, PhD student at Free university of Bolzano and Nicolò Pellini, Head of Management Control Systems and third generation family member at Pellini Caffè. The Pellini roasting company has been dedicated to the production of high-quality espresso coffee since 1922. With its plant located in Italy, near Verona, Caffè Pellini has been constantly growing in the last years, and it’s currently among the market leaders in the Italian coffee industry. The COVID19 emergency has changed our lives. How has the life of Pellini as a company and as a family changed? We consider ourselves lucky as, being part of the food industry, the government allowed us to continue our production activities. Moreover, even if we had to stop working with bars and restaurants, the other distribution channels have helped in compensating the losses. From an organizational point of view, the production automatization developed over the last few years and a number of measures such as the spacing between desks, the schedule of common areas and shifts, the use of smart working and the adoption of frequent sanitization processes has allowed us to operate without interruption and in complete safety. Have you had the opportunity to plan any long-term strategy to face this challenging moment? From a strategic perspective, this period has led us to rethink some of the initiatives that already existed, especially those oriented to lower the impact of our activities on the environment. On a practical level, however, we were led to innovate the way we work, using smart working and establishing a relationship with our agents based on working from remote. How did you manage this new way of working? We decided to implement the use of smart working only with a few employees, mainly within the sales department and in particular with our agents. For the other departments it was enough to follow the general guidelines of distancing and sanitization. You are among the so-called “Made in Italy” companies with a strong international orientation. Do you think there will be specific repercussions on the “Made in Italy” district? From the numbers that we have access to, such as those related to exports, we strongly believe that the coffee industry will be able to react positively to this crisis. As far as the other realities we work with such as roasters, bars and restaurants, unfortunately we believe that they will probably suffer from this period of emergency. Pellini supply chain is composed by different suppliers from different areas of the world. How do you think this pandemic emergency will affect your strategic partners and suppliers? If we talk about our supply chain, we must consider that it has slowed down a bit. It has not always been easy to find the raw materials, especially from countries as far away as Brazil. Do you think that some of your partners will face struggles in dealing with this period? Have you planned any initiatives to support them? In our case, we decided to undertake a […]

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Family businesses in times of crisis: AHBGI, Dubai

May 29, 2020

As part of the series of interviews dedicated to “Family Businesses in Times of Crisis”, we are pleased to share a conversation of Rania Labaki, Associate professor and Director of EDHEC Family Business Centre, with Raméz A. Baassiri, a fourth-generation board member of AHB Group Investments (AHBGI). AHBGI is a privately held family business with family entrepreneurial roots stemming as far back as a century, with equities in diversified businesses in the fields of real estate, construction, manufacturing, trading, health care, food and beverage and telecommunications.   The COVID-19 pandemic had a ripple effect on the world economies and societies. How have the family and the business been particularly impacted? The impact of the pandemic on the business varies across the industries in our portfolio. This question mainly brings me back to a realization I had when writing my book ‘Interrupted Entrepreneurship’. What counts most and foremost in the family business is the safety of our people and organization. When the borders started to close, 40 % of our board, composed by family and non-family members, were abroad on business trips and were therefore stuck away from their families. So early on, before the social distancing was in place, we had to adapt by using technology to connect and communicate. This separation has helped us view the challenges we are facing a bit more from inside the glass than from the outside, in a more personal perspective. We were for example able to reflect on the ‘personal’ price each member has to pay, whether psychologically or technically, to navigate this crisis. What was most touching though was the fact that many of those who were operating in the shadows of our business processes stepped up and took a lead. This was a bright light during an ever-gloomy situation. How did these changes translate into initiatives (or strategies)? On the business sides, we followed a series of steps: 1. Facing reality quickly. 2.Setting up realistic and achievable goals 3. Working towards these goals but on a more frequent review as the situation is very fluid 4. Taking both a defensive and offensive approach, that is trying to survive yet seek new opportunities. 5. Ensuring closer ties with our clients, suppliers and associates. 6. Cash flow management In parallel, we started by setting up a range of safety criteria and a Covid task force, selecting from each department a person in charge of ensuring the implementation of the criteria. The criteria evolved along with the situation, through extensive research and review of procedures, addressing the concerns for employees with medical conditions and those aged over 60 who were early on asked to work from home. Then we extended this procedure to all the employees and provided a more flexible work schedule from home, to account for those having to support their children studying online. In a way we ended up having round the clock teams working based on what set of circumstances they were faced with. Among the other initiatives, we organized clubbing groups of 6-8 members, ensuring that no face to face interaction with other groups, so as to curtail any […]

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Family businesses in times of crisis: Grupo Alfa, Colombia

May 25, 2020

As part of the series of interviews dedicated to “Family Businesses in Times of Crisis”, we are happy to share the recent conversation of Rania Labaki, Associate professor and Director of EDHEC Family Business Centre, with Ana Maria Matallana Boggio, president and director of the foundation of Grupo Alfa, Fundación la Cayena. Grupo Alfa is a second-generation manufacturing family business specializing in wall and floor coverings in Colombia. The COVID19 emergency has changed our lives. How the family and the business have been impacted ? The siblings of the second generation, two sisters and one brother, are currently operating the business, with Carlos Alberto Boggio the CEO of the Group and the head of the family. They have stayed very united. Their cohesion has been the most important value in this crisis. Still, the family members were not able to see each other often given the travel restrictions between Colombia and the USA, where some of the family live. Some members of the third generation who study in the USA, were not able to return to their schools and are studying at home. The family was also very sad because our older son had his High School graduation canceled whereas we were planning to celebrate this important occasion altogether. When Colombia started to be in quarantine on March 22nd, the construction industry was not considered an essential business. So, we had to close all our stores and shut down all the six ceramic plants. Imports and export within Colombia have been restricted, just like all the other flights and transportation within the country and abroad. That makes it very hard to maintain the operations with the 2000 direct employees of the Group. How did these changes translate into initiatives (or strategies)? We have operated on several fronts. Our priority was to try to maintain all employees. But after one month of quarantine and no sales we had to start looking for other options. The siblings in charge of operations are talking almost every day and supporting each other on all fronts. Each of them is responsible to communicate to their other family members what the business and the family are doing. Through our foundation, we have supplied groceries, food and masks to the communities we directly impact. We also offered to the children and youth of the community a sport and values program to do at home with their parents. With the schools closed, domestic violence has increased in Colombia. For many children, school is their safe place. We believe that this type of programs, help vulnerable communities deal and manage this situation. The vulnerable women entrepreneurship unit of the Foundation, who used to manufacture uniforms for the industries, is now manufacturing bio-security items (masks etc.) for the population. We also partnered with another social enterprise that works with vulnerable populations, to manufacture more bio-security items to be able to provide to vulnerable communities and also sell them in our stores. One of the plants, that was closed, started manufacturing anti-bacterial gels and antibacterial cleaning material for hospitals and selling them to the population because these items became scare during […]

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Family Businesses in times of crisis: LISI Group France

May 21, 2020

As part of the series of interviews dedicated to “Family Businesses in Times of Crisis”, we are pleased to share the recent conversation of Rania Labaki, Associate professor and Director of EDHEC Family Business Centre, with Emmanuel Viellard, CEO of LISI Group and President of Viellard Migeon & Cie, which is a member of The Henokiens. LISI is an industrial company, with French origins dating back to 1777, today one of the worldwide leaders in fasteners and structural components. The COVID-19 pandemic had a ripple effect on the world economies and societies. How has the family business been particularly impacted? The business was very hardly hit on average with 50% of revenue decrease for the months of April and May 2020. The new generation was getting prepared to ramp up. Given the context that is not easy, it will take over very gradually. How did these changes translate into business and family initiatives (or strategies)? As it is impossible to change the industrial infrastructures in the short term, we need to decrease the breakeven and adapt our structures for the short term. On the mid-term, the different markets will gradually recover but at a slower pace compared to normative levels. Overall the family agreed on reducing dividends this year, despite a good 2019 year, in order to protect the sustainability of the family business One of your core values manifests itself in the relationship with the territory. What are your responsibilities as ambassadors of this territory in this context? We will take all the necesssary measures including difficult ones but with a consideration for the local and the responsibility for the long term. Given the commitments of all our employees we were the first to be able to start again the production and delivery in March to ensure the continuity of our customers programs. How are your preparing for the post-crisis phase, in line with medium or long-term challenges the family business will be facing? With the work sharing program, we try to protect the ability for a short recovery with all the forces we have built for many years. Thanks to our cautious management we are strong enough financially to survive these difficult times. In the past few weeks we had a good opportunity to stop and listen to ourselves. With a positive attitude, is it possible to see this crisis as an opportunity to improve our personal lives and businesses? If yes, how? It is difficult to avoid thinking of the business hardly hit. In addition, the teams and myself are clearly 100% focused on the turnaround including crisis management. I do not believe there is another world really balanced between real economy and more comfort. The day of tomorrow will be close to the current one.

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Family Businesses in Times of Crisis : Chateau d’Ax, Italy

April 27, 2020

As the first of a series of interviews dedicated to “Family Businesses in Times of Crisis”, we are happy to share our recent conversation with Alessandro Colombo, General Manager and second-generation family owner of Chateu d’Ax, a family-run business located in Lentate sul Seveso – Milan (Italy). Founded in 1948, Chateau d’Ax is one of the world leaders in the furniture industry and a well-known brand for high-quality, handcrafted Italian products. The COVID19 emergency has changed our lives. How has the life of Chateau d’Ax as a company and Colombo as a family changed? As for many other companies, the situation of Chateau d’Ax has radically changed in the last months, with enormous limits regarding the production unit that is still closed today. In the last few days we have planned the sanitization of all departments, the back office, the logistic and the production, with the hope of being able to re-open as soon as possible. As far as the commercial part is concerned, all our shops are closed until further notice. As far as the organization, all the strategic meetings are conducted virtually. Perhaps the only positive aspect of this dramatic moment is the fact that we have managed to speed up the development of distance working. Considering that, probably more than other cultures, we give physical interaction for granted when we hold a meeting, I believe that this specific development is a relevant step forward for us. View the current situation, have you had the opportunity to plan any long-term changes? On a production level we are not planning radical changes. On the other side, we are now working on digital rather than offline communication. Moreover, the development of our e-commerce platform is speeding up. Even if I truly believe that the furniture industry will never be able to rely only on the online sales, I think that we still need to increase our brand presence online. One of your core values is represented by the high-quality standard of your products, which you work to maintain throughout the entire production chain. How do you think this pandemic emergency will affect your partners in the supply chain? The quality standards of the supply chain are certified as before, but we need to constantly follow the new anti-virus regulations. As we are aware that all materials can be vehicles of contagion, we need to make sure that our suppliers organize themselves in the same way we do to maintain safety standards. As a result, our quality managers are now also responsible for monitoring security standards. You have just emphasized the safety aspect, but I guess you are also making some economic evaluations. Are you worried that some of your partners will suffer this economic break? Have you planned any initiatives to support them? As soon as the production will restart, we know that we will face many challenges. From our side, we are trying to work on grouping or anticipating orders to our partners, so to reach the minimum order quantities and to help them with standardized productions. You are among the so-called “Made in Italy” companies with a strong […]

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