History Lessons - Successful succession

The Hefners. In 1982, the Playboy magazine and nightclub empire reported losses of $51.8 million.

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Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

In 1982, the Playboy magazine and nightclub empire reported losses of $51.8 million. With the situation looking desperate, its pyjama-clad founder Hugh Hefner took to his bed, installing his daughter Christie as CEO. The power-suited Christie seemed an odd choice, but Hef knew what he was doing. The 'corporate Germaine Greer', as she was dubbed, did what her father never could, selling off his beloved club holdings and, deadwood chopped, she set about changing her father's 'personality-driven lifestyle company' into a global consumer and multimedia brand. She developed a series of innovative ancillary businesses under the Playboy name and, in 1998, the company reported a profit of $4.8 million, its first in 16 years. As one expert put it: 'Playboy was an attractive building with a rotting foundation; Christie put it on a firm base.' Meanwhile, her daddy carried on partying, extolling the benefits of Viagra and enjoying the 70% Playboy stake he had wisely retained.

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