Central London-based fine printers and bookbinders Barnard & Westwood has been purchased by its employees. In an announcement made today, Austen Kopley, B&W’s Managing Director said; “As of 8th July 2015 Barnard & Westwood will be wholly owned by the Barnard & Westwood Employee Ownership Trust, with all current employees becoming partners in the new company.”
The move sees the existing shareholders sell all their shares to the Barnard & Westwood Employee Ownership Trust. The Trust will hold 100% of the shares in Barnard & Westwood Ltd on behalf of the employee partners.
The company will continue to produce its high-end, bespoke print and bookbinding using a mix of traditional and cutting edge technology for a range of clients.
“We believe the new structure gives us a real opportunity to grow Barnard & Westwood in a way that is beneficial to everyone involved in the business”, explained Kopley. “Long term planning is something that often passes small and medium sized businesses by and we were determined that we should put in place a plan that went some way to guaranteeing the legacy of the company.”
“Barnard & Westwood is approaching its centenary and successive generations of family ownership have nurtured and developed a hugely successful company. The business is in a good position, is growing nicely and has a wonderful group of people working in it. We felt it was important that everything the company stands for continues into the future and we knew that we had to plan carefully to achieve that. This is not an exit strategy for me, I will be very much hands on as we go forward, but it secures a solid base to build for the future.”
“We considered many options, but the employee ownership route stood out as being the one that best suited Barnard & Westwood. You only have to look at companies like the John Lewis Partnership, Divine Chocolate, and Wilkin & Sons, all of whom operate variations of an employee ownership scheme, to see the benefits for everyone involved.”
Whilst the ownership structure has changed, the day to day management of the company will essentially be the same. Austen Kopley will remain as Managing Director, and Robert Ellisson as Company Secretary. Elsewhere, two long-standing employees, Linda Austin who works in accounting and marketing, and David High who is in charge of die stamping and letterpress printing, join the Trustee Board as trustee members. Michele Kopley will also serve on the Trustee Board for the first two years of the new endeavour.
Other changes have seen Tom Pindar retiring as Company Chairman. “Tom’s experience has been invaluable and we are lucky that we will be able to call on it in the future” said Austen Kopley.
“It has been a challenging time”, said Linda Austin, “personally there has been quite a bit to learn and the training has been fascinating. There is definitely an added buzz at work now. We are a relatively small workforce so we have always had good communications, but the change has made everyone just that bit more aware of what we are doing.”
“It was important” explained Kopley who has spent some time visiting the company’s clients, “that the customers understood that, as far as they were concerned, nothing would change. They would be dealing with the same people, with the same high standards, delivering the same exceptional products they were used to. The reaction from our main customers has been extremely positive and very encouraging.”
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