Family business takes centre stage at national conference

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A business which marked its 20th anniversary in 2017 by securing a major national award completed the year by taking centre stage as an example of best practice at the National Family Business Conference.
Joy Allen (left) and Helen Gibson at the National Family Business Conference 2017.

A business which marked its 20th anniversary in 2017 by securing a major national award completed the year by taking centre stage as an example of best practice at the National Family Business Conference.

Hessle-based Agencia joined major players including Pimlico Plumbers and Pentland Brands Ltd – stable for such labels as Ellesse, Lacoste and Speedo – on a platform which has previously featured the likes of Fortnum & Mason, Morrisons and Stagecoach.

Managing Director Helen Gibson and her sister Joy Allen, the company’s Head of HR and Corporate Services, shared the lectern at the event at Canary Wharf in London and outlined the Agencia approach to the challenges facing family businesses.

Agencia operates throughout the UK and internationally, devising and delivering health and justice improvement programmes which transform lives and communities. In July, they were voted the Best Small Business in the UK at the National Family Business Awards. Whilst its activities are very different from those of many family businesses, Agencia has faced the same hurdles – particularly succession planning and talent development.

Helen was a key part of the succession process when she left a career which included spells in the Cabinet Office and with PA Consulting to join her father Andrew Gibson at Agencia in 2009. She became Managing Director in 2012 and was joined early in 2017 by Joy, who had held senior HR posts with RBS, NBC Universal and retirement solutions heavyweight Hornbuckle.

Helen said:

By focusing on succession planning at the right time we were able to take the business forward to our 20th anniversary this year. Joy’s appointment was crucial because HR is such a key element of talent development.

“But the conference was not just about sharing our experiences with others, it was also a fantastic learning environment as we heard the stories of other family businesses and made a lot of new contacts.

“It is a very honest forum in which people open up about the difficult situations which they have faced in their business and personal lives, which are intertwined more than ever in a family business. That in turn means the conference and the individual delegates can be a great source of moral support and encouragement.”

Agencia is now planning further expansion as the business enters 2018 with a new brand and exciting new projects at their offices in Hessle, Scunthorpe and Sarajevo

Helen added:

It has been quite a year for us. It’s been incredibly special just to get to 20 years, because that’s not something we would ever have taken for granted. We also won the award and we celebrated in style with colleagues and contacts at The Deep and in Sarajevo.

“Next we will roll out our new brand and our new-look website and use that to tell more people about the work that we do. We have a three-year strategy to take us to 2020. It’s about building on what we have in our core markets and taking it to more places.”