Leonisa: A Succession Crisis Among Second Gens
A well-known lingerie retailer in Colombia, Leonisa is a family-owned company that barely survived a second-generation succession crisis. Brothers Joaqu n and Julio Ernesto Urrea founded the firm in 1956, and over 50 years built one of the most recognizable brands in Latin America. While they each had an equal stake in the company, their respective families were not of equal size: Joaqu n had 11 children including nine boys, Julio had three daughters. While the girls were interested in design and fashion, the boys were keen to create satellite ventures around the core brand. When one of the co-founders died, a family dispute erupted over whether the dividends should be plowed back into the business or distributed to the shareholders. A mediator obliged the warring branches to reach a settlement that would allow Leonisa to survive. The ousted sisters eventually had their own success story by launching a new business based on their core competencies.