Owners of online beer retailer hand over majority control

An award-winning online beer retailer has handed majority control to its eight-strong team in a move worth £650,000.

Best of British Beer founders Gill and Will Sherwin have created an Employee Ownership Trust making them minority shareholders in their business.

The husband-and-wife team say the move creates a legacy and rewards their staff for their “outstanding commitment” to a growing business.

Will said: “I believe a business should not simply be about profit. It should also be about happiness and on both counts we are winning.”

The Employee Ownership Trust offers job security and future proofs the business as new owners cannot come in and move the business away from its Newcastle-under-Lyme base if Will and Gill were ever inclined to sell or retire.

The changes were revealed to the unsuspecting staff during a social quiz at the company’s headquarters in Silverdale.

Former apprentice Emily Sale, who now works as a Best of British Beer accountants supervisor, finds herself as part owner of Best of British Beer, aged just 20.

She said: “From being a 16-year-old apprentice to having shares in a business is something that I will always struggle to come to terms with. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the industry and to have a say in decisions that will affect the future of the business.”

The Employee Ownership Trust has been approved by HMRC.

Gill said: “Best of British Beer was already a strong business but we benefited during lockdown as online ordering became ever more popular. We came through a very busy year thanks to the full support of our fantastic team.

“Anyone in business knows they have to look to the future and, while we are not at that stage yet, there’s always questions around exit plans.

“We could look to external investors but that comes with a risk the business may be forced in different directions. For example, if we were to sell our majority shareholding, there could be a decision to uproot the business – as an online enterprise, Best of British Beer could operate from anywhere.”

Best of British Beer was started in 2011 from Will and Gill’s kitchen table – a table that now doubles as their office desks at the company’s base on the Silverdale Enterprise Park.

Will picked up the company’s first batch of beer in his old Volvo estate car.

“We’re a business family and we want to offer our team security,” added Gill. “The Trust means the team have a majority stake and the business couldn’t be moved away from their home area by a third party.”

Will said: “It also creates a legacy for us. The business we built is now majority owned by the team we nurtured – they range from a 20-year-old  apprentice to Gill’s 75-year-old mum. We believe we have future proofed both the business and our team.”