The Journey to employee-ownership

There are over 350 Employee-Owned businesses in the UK delivering around 4% of GDP and the sector includes companies such as John Lewis and more recently Richer Sounds, so when Risk and Policy Analysts decided to take the step to becoming employee-owned they were in good company. At our South Norfolk Networking Breakfast at Park Farm Hotel on June 13th we were very lucky to have Peter Floyd, former Managing Director, with us discussing their journey and the factors that led them to taking that step.

RPA has been going for over 30 years and was originally set up by Pete and his wife Meg providing policy consultancy to the European Commission, chemical industry, and public bodies across a number of different areas. They grew from nothing to having 30 employees based in Loddon with a £3m turnover. For the past ten years Pete and Meg have been looking for the right way to move away from the business in order to take a back seat while still looking after their employees. As Pete highlighted, when you start a business no-one explains that success also means you’re responsible for other peoples’ mortgages, children, and livelihoods so closing the business and making people redundant wasn’t an option.

They tried several times to sell the business but often found that the new owners wanted them to stay on for a period of time and the process was complex. They explored the options available to them for employee ownership and found that advice differed expert to expert, employee ownership is still evolving, and advice was costly. Once they had made sense of the advice given to them they came up with criteria for employee ownership that would make it right for RPA so the company is owned and influenced via the Employee Ownership Trust with no buying and selling of shares so the process of joining and leaving the company remains straightforward and profits are shared fairly based on length of service and salary.

The main thing delegates were left thinking about was that there is no “right” way to exit your own business, it has to be right for you and your employees and that getting advice from a number of advisors means you can decide on the best approach for you. All in all it was a really interesting morning learning about a route that more and more businesses are looking at as a viable option to retain their independence.

Norfolk Wildlife Trust, the country’s oldest wildlife trust, were our feature charity for the morning and were the inspiration for our networking activity “if your business were an animal which animal would it be and why”… They look after over 50 nature reserves across the county and provide a number of education services. 

Why not join us at our next networking event? Take a look at all our upcoming events here.

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