By James Wells
SYDNEY: In his first press interview since taking over as Bing Lee chief executive, Lionel Lee revealed he would not float or sell the $400 million retail business due to his responsibility to his family of 600 staff.
Speaking for the first time since the death of his father Ken Lee in late December last year, Lionel told Current.com.au that despite the day to day challenges of achieving sales targets, opening new stores and maintaining relationships with suppliers, the staff come first.
“My biggest priority is the staff,” he said.
Groomed to run the business for over 20 years, Lee demonstrated he would continue with the same philosophy undertaken by his father and grandfather – looking after the staff and customers.
“Outward-in nothing changes, but inward-out it is important that our staff are ok, especially when you are running a family business. It is too early for me to make any mark on the business. It will be a while before we make any changes – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
“If you talk about plans to sell or to float – it is not ours to sell. Dad created the business for the family and I have always been brought up in a family business – a family business that supports up to 600 people – and that’s now my main responsibility.
“Dad told me: ‘I didn’t build the business just for me, I built it for the family’. My key goals now are to keep the customers happy and maintain the family spirit. That is a huge responsibility to look after the people that work with you, not just for you.
“We are a family business. My brother is still involved as business development manager and is currently bedding-in our Carlingford Court store and my cousin Gary is our whitegoods buyer. But the family also extends to employees like Theo who have been in the business for 34 years and his son and daughter also have roles in the business.
“From the storeman to the truck drivers, everyone has been a part of the business and played an important part of the success of the business in 50 years and that’s what has built our longevity.”
Lionel will continue to pursue the traditional Bing Lee policy of selecting staff based on their attitude to the business.
“We’ll give anyone a go, as long as they have the right attitude and as long as they can fit into the Bing Lee family."