In June 2015, Barnard & Westwood went from being a historic family-owned company to a 100% employee-owned enterprise. This new era of employee ownership has brought with it many positive changes for both the company and its new “partners”.
The previous shareholders sold all of their shares to the newly created ‘Barnard & Westwood Employee Ownership Trust’. This trust acts to safeguard all of the shares in Barnard & Westwood Ltd. on behalf of all employees who are now ‘Partners’ in the company. This model is similar to that of companies who have already taken the big leap towards employee ownership such as John Lewis and Waitrose (John Lewis Partnership), Wilkin & Sons Ltd. and Divine Chocolate.
With the company approaching it’s centenary and successive generations of family ownership having nurtured and developed a hugely successful brand the owners felt it was the perfect time to implement this change to ensure every single individual involved with the company sees the benefit of their efforts.
“The business is in a good position, 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.” – Austen Kopley, Managing Director of Barnard & Westwood Ltd.
While this has led to fundamental changes in the ownership structure, the day-to-day management of the company stays very much the same. Austen Kopley continues on as Managing Director and Robert Ellisson as Company Secretary. However, to ensure the voices of all ‘Partners’ at the company are heard the firm has elected 2 Trustee representatives from the current workforce to serve on the Trustee board and ensure the company moves forward in a direction to benefit all involved.
Although still very much in the early stages, the move to Employee Ownership has already led to great positive change at Barnard & Westwood and there is great optimism for what the future holds.
“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 to Employee Ownership has made everyone just that bit more aware of what we are doing.” – Linda Austin, Newly elected Trustee & Partner
To learn more about employee ownership, its impact on the companies that choose to adopt it and to read further case studies please visit the Employee Ownership Association website via the link below: