Shoe maker Clarks failed to keep up with retail trends while shareholders prioritized dividends over investment, according to one of the family members.
Galahad Clark, a descendant of founders Cyrus and James Clark, said the company failed to “move fast enough into the 21st century”, ultimately leading to a £100 million (€111m - $135m) bailout in December by private equity investor LionRock.
Galahad Clark, a seventh generation cobbler, said family owners “ultimately are to blame” for not investing enough in the 195-year-old company’s future, the Sunday Times reported.
He said fragmented family ownership meant it had lacked strategic direction under a series of external chief executives.
Bosses “inherited a pretty fat cow full of milk”, but took “more milk than they put back in”, while family owners were “guilty” of “accepting as much milk” as they were given and not “nourishing” the business, Clark added.
They also failed to build a serious online presence and “just hadn’t moved forward fast enough,” Clark said.
Descendants owned 85 percent of the firm with Galahad Clark’s family holding about 22 percent. After LionRock bought 51 percent, those stakes were roughly halved, the report stated.
He said LionRock provided “a lot of exciting opportunities”.
“Truth be told, it probably needed new owners, and of all the owners in the world, these look like pretty good owners,” he said.