Northern Ireland family firms urged to think 'succession'
Family firms in Northern Ireland could be storing up problems for the future by failing to tackle the question of succession, a survey has found.
Business advisers BDO said failure to plan for the future could have a significant impact on the local economy.
Around three-quarters of companies are described as 'family-run', with some operated by second or even third generations.
A survey by BDO found that most firms were not planning adequately for the future.
The issue of success was discussed at an event hosted by CBI in Belfast as part of its medium-sized business (MSB) club.
It was aimed at businesses with a turnover of over £10m.
CBI NI director Angela McGowan said family enterprises needed protection like never before: "With a changeable market and the impact of Brexit yet to be fully understood, it's more important than ever that we do what we can to protect the family-owned businesses that form the backbone of Northern Ireland's economy."
She said companies must tackle succession planning, even thought it was seldom a straightforward process.
"Family owned businesses are doing amazing things across the region and it would be a shame if their successes were put at risk by putting off difficult conversations or inadequately planning for the future," she added.
Maybeth Shaw, partner and family-owned business expert at BDO, said: "Our research has helped us capture the experiences and concerns of family owned businesses in Northern Ireland, and in working together with the CBI and other business networks, we can help give them a stronger voice on the issues important to them.
"Overall we have found that family owned businesses here are confident, despite the changing economic environment, and ready to innovate.
"Succession planning, transitioning to the next generation and the challenges of employee recruitment and retention were the main concerns for our unique family owned businesses, who are crucial to the success of our local economy."