Lancaster University helps give family firms chance to build sustainable future

Lancashire’s family businesses have the opportunity to drive their companies forward and find solutions to challenges that stand in their way through a new scheme led by Lancaster University Management School.
Lancaster University Management School.Lancaster University Management School.
Lancaster University Management School.

Family Business Excellence is a six-month programme for family firms looking to develop productive and sustainable strategies that will serve future generations.

It provides access to the expertise of the Lancaster University Management School Centre for Family Business, and includes workshop and residential sessions, as well as a visit to a regional family firm, and masterclass sessions delivered by world-class speakers.

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The fully-funded programme is supported by the European Regional Development Fund, and delivered in partnership with Boost, Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub, and follows a successful four-month pilot scheme which started in November last year.

Programme manager Matt Hutchinson, from LUMS, said: “There are so many challenges that arise from mixing business with family. Through years of research and engagement with global family businesses, the Centre for Family Business has developed a deep understanding of these issues, and how to tackle them.

“The new programme is based on academic theory, but is accessible to all and is firmly-grounded in the reality of family-run small and medium-sized businesses. It will give these firms the opportunity to explore the challenges they face, and the ability to put plans in place to drive them forward into a successful future.”

Dr Giovanna Campopiano, director of the Centre for Family Business, who will lead the academic theory aspect of the programme, believes leaders of family firms need to take the time to address the challenges facing them.

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She said: “Time out of the business is so critical to ensuring that family work together for the benefit of the business, building a culture of communication and change.

“At the Centre for Family Business, we focus on research related to growth, innovation and business practices. This research helps us to develop the theories, frameworks and tools around which this programme is based and which will support businesses in addressing their own challenges.”

One of the businesses who took part in the pilot programme are Lancaster-based coffee roasters and tea merchants J. Atkinson & Co Ltd.

Maitland Steel, from Atkinson’s, said the scheme had provided many benefits to them.

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“The programme helps you focus on the hard problems you need to confront to move forward,” he said. “What’s definitely been useful from the whole exercise is taking a step back and thinking about what we want to do going forward and how we’re going to do it.”

Family businesses can find out more about what is on offer and how to get involved at a taster event, Culture & Communication in Family Business, on Wednesday, July 10, at Stanley House Hotel, between Blackburn and Preston, between 8.30am and 10.30am.

The event will feature a keynote address from two generations of the Hall Family, from Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses, as well as an interactive panel discussion featuring Dr Campopiano, business representatives and family business consultant John Oliver.

The Family Business Excellence Programme is available to ERDF-eligible Lancashire-based SMEs. Senior decision-makers of qualifying businesses are invited to apply for a place, and can contact Jane Hunter on 01524 593632 or email [email protected] for more information.

To sign-up for the taster event, visit