Law firm advises on deal to coincide with national Employee Ownership Day

Mary Erb

Manchester law firm, Fieldfisher, has supported Knowles Associates’ transition to an employee-owned trust, coinciding with Employee Ownership Day 2020, today.

The process was led by Mary Erb, partner, in Fieldfisher’s Manchester office.

Colin Knowles, founder of Colchester-based Knowles Associates, has transferred 100% ownership of the business to its 54 employees through an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT).

The transition also included the acquisition of Ensure UK, providers of fleet insurance mediation and accident management services.

The reason behind the decision to become an EOT was to secure a sustainable future for the business and, crucially, to retain independent status which has been a major factor in Knowles Associates’ success.

Providing employees with a stake in the company also aims to further strengthen staff commitment, enhance performance and boost innovation to achieve superior results.

Knowles Associates was established in 1990 and has grown to become a major provider of fully-inclusive fleet management and benefit services to more than 115 NHS and public sector organisations across England, Scotland and Wales.

The firm works with all UK leasing and rental companies operating in the public sector and manages a fleet of almost 20,000 cars, vans and commercial vehicles from 35 manufacturers.

Colin Knowles said: “Fieldfisher provided a highly-professional service, expertly advising on the legal aspects of the EOT transaction.

“Mary Erb’s support was invaluable, steering us through the process step by step to ensure that, even though we were unable meet face-to-face due to COVID-19 restrictions, the outcome was excellent and we achieved our planned timeframe.

“We are excited to embark on the next stage of our strategic growth as an employee owned business.”

Mary Erb said: “It was a privilege to have helped bring Knowles Associates to full employee ownership, seeing them join a thriving business model – congratulations to the whole team.

“The employee ownership model is a great move for businesses who want to uplift employee morale, increase engagement and reward their workforce by seeing employees become beneficiaries of the trust and stakeholders in the business.

“I have no doubt that the business will continue to go from strength to strength and will further flourish under employee ownership.”