Julian Richer has all the time been seen as an unorthodox businessman – and this week, he confirmed why.
The founder and 100%-owner of the Richer Sounds hi-fi and tv shops is placing possession of the enterprise in a John Lewis-style worker belief.
“My father dropped down useless on the age of 60, and I used to be 60 just a few weeks in the past,” he informed the BBC. “It was time to move on the reins.”
He and his spouse, Rosie, don’t have any kids, and “I did not need to promote to a stranger who may need fully totally different goals and ambitions for the enterprise. I am hoping it can make sure the succession of the enterprise,” Mr Richer says.
Establishing a belief for the enterprise was, actually, written into his will in 2003. However the technique of shifting to the brand new construction was begun about two years in the past in order that Rosie might keep away from having to supervise the change “if I pre-deceased her”.
“My spouse is great, however she’s not madly industrial,” he says. Finding out the change now appeared just like the “grownup factor to do”.
He based Richer Sounds in 1978, aged simply 19. There at the moment are 53 shops, with 530 workers and about £200m in annual revenues. It is introduced him the kind of wealth that many workers can solely dream off – £160m, based on the most recent Sunday Occasions Wealthy Listing.
What he calls a “cautious, conservative” method to increasing the enterprise has been one cause for his success, Mr Richer believes.
However another excuse has been an enlightened angle to workers, one thing he set out in his 2001 administration e-book The Richer Method.
Mr Richer informed the BBC: “I have been operating my enterprise for 40 years and the overriding factor I’ve discovered is that it is all in regards to the folks. When you deal with your folks proper, then they’re going to be happier, give a greater service, stick with you, they don’t seem to be going to steal.”
Richer Sounds additionally has 12 vacation properties – together with in Paris and Barcelona – for employees use, with about 70% of the workforce utilizing no less than one dwelling every year.
As a part of this week’s announcement, Mr Richer has given about £4m to workers (excluding administrators) within the type of £1,000 for yearly of service. The typical size of service is eight years. “I simply felt it was the correct factor to do. There have been a variety of completely happy folks yesterday.”
Working situations within the UK fear him. The announcement of the belief got here on the identical day that unemployment figures confirmed one other fall.
“At face worth, that is nice, however I do fear in regards to the high quality of the roles,” he says. “I am involved about low wages and folks residing under the residing wage. I am involved about evil zero-hours contracts. I hate penalties for folks being off sick.”
Life is hard for many individuals, each in work and out of it, he says, including: “Inequality in the intervening time is the worst I’ve understand it in my lifetime,” he says.
It is why 15% of Richer Sounds earnings go to charity. He additionally helps finance Taxwatch, a non-profit organisation that seeks to show tax avoidance by multi-national companies and the mega-rich.
His anger on the UK’s damaged system prompted him to jot down one other e-book – The Moral Capitalist: Easy methods to Make Enterprise Work Higher for Society – printed final 12 months.
In it, he admits to as soon as paying himself gold bullion to keep away from paying nationwide insurance coverage. Though authorized, it was “not morally justifiable” and he stopped.
One in every of his hopes is that organising the Richer Sounds belief and gifting cash to workers “will set a very good instance”.
What’s going to he do now? Firstly, he is not retiring from Richer Sounds. “On Monday, I used to be handed an employment contract, and had slightly chat – was a humorous feeling.”
Day-to-day operations are overseen by the chief government, Julie Abraham. And Mr Richer is without doubt one of the 4 trustees within the new set-up. “They’ve all been with the corporate a very long time. We do issues in a collaborative manner,” he says.
“For the time being, I’m nonetheless going to be as concerned as ever,” he says. “However I’ve handed [the business] over to a belief, and I will probably be respectful of that.”
So he will not essentially have extra time to carry out because the drummer in his funk band, Ten Millennia.
There are additionally different enterprise pursuits, too, now together with appearing as an adviser to the chief government of Marks & Spencer, Steve Rowe, as he seeks to restructure operations and finalise plans for a three way partnership with on-line meals agency Ocado.
It is an organization that holds a variety of reminiscences. “My mother and father met at in M&S within the ’50s within the Kilburn [London] retailer. Hopefully they’d be very happy.”