“Look, there’s no way on this planet that my children are going to work for Flowcrete,” says Gibbins resolutely. “I don’t want them to go into a large organisation where other employees would be muttering ‘Ooh, there’s the boss’s daughter’, or think they were just being spoon-fed’.”
Gibbins set up the Cheshire-based supplier of flooring systems in 1982 with her father who had trained as an industrial chemist and who she describes as a “great British inventor”. Their first contract together was developing a sugar-resistant floor for Mars Confectionary’s factory. “The first order we had from Mars was £20,000 at 50 per cent gross margin, so we made £10,000 off the first order and Mars are still our customer today.”
Together, Gibbins and her father built Flowcrete into a global company with 30 offices worldwide and 12 manufacturing plants globally. It now employs 350 people around the world, with 90 based in the UK.
“I just don’t think it would be the right thing for my two daughters to work there. It would be making life too easy for them. They’ve got to get out there, find what they want to do and earn their own living just like I did because that is character-building.”
And Gibbins’s mind is also made up on the issue of leaving money behind for her daughters. “Oh, you’ve hit the button now,” she laughs. “No, my husband and I agree that we’re not going to make trust funds for the kids.”
Gibbins is not alone in such a decision. Rather, she will be following in the footsteps of many other famous and hugely successful entrepreneurs who have decided to disinherit their kids. Take celebrity TV chef Nigella Lawson who earlier this year announced that her children won’t see a penny of the £110m fortune she shares with her marketing guru hubby Charles Saatchi.
However, what Gibbins isn’t opposed to is going into partnership with her daughters in setting up a new business venture.
“One of my daughters is doing a business degree at Manchester business school and is very interested in nutrition, and the other one is very interested in psychology. I’m currently investing £2m in setting up a domestic flooring company called Barefoot Living that focuses on selling beautiful stone carpets for conservatories and garden rooms, reflexology walkways and therapeutic flooring.
"Now, I’m not saying that it’s a “fait accompli”, but maybe one day we could work together to expand the Barefoot Living brand to include Barefoot Health and Barefoot Psychology!
“If they have some inspiration and want to set up their own business, then I would be happy to work with them in the same way that my dad did with me. I like the idea of re-living history in that way.”
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