Rural family firms invited to join business growth pilot programme
Family-run businesses operating in rural Devon and Somerset are being invited to take part in a year-long pilot scheme which aims to boost the rural economy by bringing out the best in family firms.
Businesses ranging from farming families to funeral directors can apply for an initial business health check with consultants from one of 12 professional firms and organisations who have received specialist training at the global business school, the Institute of Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne, Switzerland,
The IMD training course is part of a year-long Family Business Growth Programme which has been designed to unlock the full potential of family firms and farms within the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) region. It has been part-funded by Defra's Rural Growth Network - a government initiative designed to boost Devon and Somerset's rural economy by £40 million.
Participating businesses will work with professional advisors to navigate their way through the complexities of family business to focus on the sustainability and growth of their companies from one generation to the next. Their progress will be monitored by Dr Matt Lobley , Co-Director of the Centre for Rural Policy Research at the University of Exeter.
Dr Lobley, an expert in rural family business, especially farming family succession, said:
"The programme evaluation will involve visiting the family businesses that have received professional advice through the Family Business Growth Programme and we will see whether the advice they have received has had a positive impact on their business."
Recommendations will be made at the end of the programme as to how the initiativecan be rolled-out nationally.
Professor of Family Business Joachim Schwass and Professor of Organisational Behaviour Ben Bryant led the two-day masterclass at IMD, Lausanne in May, focusing on the complexities of family business with constructive advice on how to unlock their full potential.
Two Devon-based family businesses attended the IMD course to provide real-life case studies for the delegates. They were Patrick McCaig from Otter Breweries and farmers Peter and Di Wastenage from Budleigh Salterton.
The Family Business Growth Programme was instigated and managed by Clinton Devon Estates to support the government's Rural Growth Agenda and involves financial, legal and land management professionals as well as a number of not for profit organisations including Bicton College and Duchy College. The NFU , the Tenant Farmers Association and the Country Land and Business Association participated in the course and will be involved in the pilot programme.
John Varley, Estates Director at Clinton Devon Estates said: "This programme is the first of its kind to recognise the value of rural family business to our local and regional economy. It also recognises the complexities of running a business in which family values, emotions and generational issues have to be carefully considered alongside profit and growth."
Tim Jones, Chair of HotSW LEP said: "Working with our partners, Devon County Council, this initiative will make a real difference to rural family businesses - the Rural Growth Network is designed to realise the potential of enterprises and encourage the growth of new rural businesses."
"Family businesses are vital to our rural economy and it's essential that they are supported to ensure they continue to survive and thrive."
Representatives from the following organisations are participating in the Family Business Growth Programme and have received training at the IMD, Lausanne, Switzerland: