The secrets of Henry Lemoine publications will be passed down through the ages
“Being a family business increases the difficulty, he knows his son. Because we want it to be sustainable.” Challenge but no pressure. “I never said to myself, ‘I will work in the family business,’ but I never said to myself, ‘I will not work in the family business.’ It happened naturally.”
A good point to respect the credit of Pierre Lemoine, confirms Olivier Borel, director and consultant of Océo development, who precisely accompanied the company during the always sensitive phase of the handover process. Hire a business transfer coach? According to Pierre Lemoine, “A major step allowed me to explain what was in my mind.”
Choosing a successor in a family business is not so simple
Because difficulties to be avoided are not lacking in family structures. Start by appointing a qualified successor. A puzzle that is part of the Henokiens International Association – Henry Lemoine Publications, which brings together family businesses that are at least two hundred years old. A 2016 study by Insead already noted: “regardless of the experience of the owner-manager, succession planning always carries the risk of failure”.
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“Olivier Borel explains that there is not much choice in the family business, it is limited by the family structure. But which of the children to choose? The question is not so simple. Has he spent his entire career in this field? company or vice versa has his own professional experience abroad? But what about unrelated family members or spouses?
On the Lemoine family’s side, the issue of restitution was certainly addressed, but not resolved. The only certainty: “all strategic decisions will be made by three”. The three sisters, who decided to integrate into the company precisely after different sources – “work with the coach made it possible to clarify the tasks of each one, what each one can bring to the company”, says Hugues Lemoine. the other two chose different professional paths.
“Generations taking the company to the next level”
Pierre Lemoine says: “I did with my children what my father did with me: I let them do what they wanted. I did agro business in Montpellier. After that I got a doctorate in economics in the USA!” Before joining the game, he left a firm with 170,000 employees for the family business and its 17 employees. Thirty years later, Henry Lemoine Editions changed its size with the purchase of Delrieu, Van de Velde and Jobert or even Paul Beuscher, a real musical institution.
After doubling the workforce, there was a real change in scale, with a turnover of 10 million euros for the group, including 5 million euros for the publishing part – according to the latest music publishing barometer in the French publishing market, where 60% of publishers achieve a business turnover of less than 1 million euros *. The company displays more than 30,000 works in the catalog. Pierre Lemoine notes, referring to his ancestor, who went international at the beginning of the 20th century: “There are generations that ensure reliability and others take the company to higher levels.”
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As for Hugues Lemoine and his two brothers, they intend to bring their stone to the building. The whole playing field found: digital technology and its great challenges for music publishing. “There is another way to learn with the Internet, and this is what we are looking at, describes the son. For example, we released a method called GalagoMusic with a Youtuber.
Digitization of sheet music, fight against piracy… digital plays an important role in the reflection of the sector. Just like with the new generations of Lemoine, the person in charge of the company is never too far away. “There are market opportunities we can detect, says Hugues Lemoine. We compare them with our father’s experience.” As well as his deep knowledge of the sector and its institutions.
“Because we are ‘sons’, we don’t need to prove ourselves”
The company’s strategy? This is indeed one of those points where, like management, one can vacillate during the transition from one leader to another. Even more so in a 250-year-old company where certain changes can only cause heartache. Like when Henry Lemoine decided to discontinue his piano method after nearly 150 years of existence. Or choose to touch the logo.
Wiping the slate clean, yes, but it’s always in the company’s best interest. It needs a good dose of trust between the responsible generation and the next generation. This word regularly comes to the lips of Pierre Lemoine and his son. “I trust them,” confirms a website redesign project piloted by the siblings as the first example. A small smile and a sideways glance at her son: “but I’m looking…”
Especially not always obtained in the transitional stages of a family business, for Olivier Borel the confidence in his successor’s abilities is an undeniable asset to involve all employees in the change at the head of the company. “Whoever gets handed over carries the weight of the company, describes the consultant. If it has grown strongly under the current manager, employees are concerned about the future of the successor. Likewise, if things aren’t going too well, they wonder if he can turn things around.”
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In order to understand the impact of the transfer on non-employee family members, an outside perspective is therefore indispensable, says Hugues Lemoine. “We don’t need to prove ourselves because we are their sons.” “When colleagues see that turnover is decreasing, customers are getting younger, it speaks to them,” says Pierre Lemoine. In order to perpetuate a legacy that is more than two hundred years old, it is important to engage with the company in the future when other music publishers have failed to make the leap. It is also important to legitimize their role with composers. “Our mission is to ensure the continuity of things over time. If we can’t keep up with the times ourselves…”
*In the editors of the Barometer pattern The Chamber of the Union of Music Publishers and the Chamber of the Union of Music Publishers of France