Employees take on ownership at £47m turnover fuel supply group

Hebden Bridge-headquartered fuel supplier Craggs Energy and its sister company in Devon, Moorland Fuels, have transferred ownership of the businesses to their 55-strong workforce.

The deal was advised on by the corporate finance teams at Leeds law firm Clarion and chartered accountants BHP.

The directors have transferred 100% of shares in the businesses to their teams by establishing an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT), funded by future profits.

Both companies have been in operation for over 10 years and have grown into significant players in the UK fuel industry. They provide fuel delivery services and wider solutions to homes, farms and businesses.

With bases in Hebden Bridge and Padiham in Lancashire, Craggs Energy, predominantly serves the North of England, while Moorland Fuels serves the South West from its Okehampton head office.

Group chairman, Chris Bingham, said: “I’ve been considering the option of employee ownership for quite some time and when we looked into the benefits and alternatives available to us, an EOT was the obvious choice as it allows the existing shareholders to plan their exit over a longer term while transferring the benefits to the employees.

“As successful and ever-growing businesses, we could have sold to a third party. However, I place great value on my team and wanted to be able to reward the people who have grown the businesses to where they are today.

“As far as I am aware, we are the first fuel distribution companies in the UK to transfer 100% of our ownership to an EOT. The response from our shareholders and our staff has been extremely positive and there has been an increase in productivity and motivation which I’m sure will help to drive future growth.”

The Clarion team, led by Kaira Clarehugh and Jonathan Simms, provided legal advice, while Amanda Waterhouse and Lewis Richardson of BHP established the EOT and advised on structure and taxation issues.

Clarehugh added: “In recent years, we’ve seen EOTs becoming more and more popular and it’s certainly a great way of rewarding the staff as well as motivating greater productivity and a bright future for the business and the community.”

In 2021, Craggs Energy achieved turnover of £33.1m and is forecast to see over 54% growth this year, rising to £51.2m. The company currently has 37 employees.

For Moorland Fuels, which employs 18 people, turnover in 2021 was £13.7m and this is expected to at least double this year, reaching a £27.5m turnover.

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