Part employee-ownership model adopted to secure company’s future

Yorkshire-based Sewell Estates, part of the wider Sewell Group, has become part employee-owned.

In a move to secure the long term future of the business and protect its culture, majority shareholder and group chair, Paul Sewell has moved 25% of the company’s shares into an employee ownership trust.

Almost 300 people who work across Sewell Estates’ seven businesses are now co-owners, meaning they will have a greater say in how the business is run and the potential to share in any company profits.

Paul Sewell said: “I have always believed in employee ownership – that employees make or break a company and should have a greater stake than just salary and bonus can provide. They should feed into the strategic concept of a company, its sustainability and overall value.

“My shareholding in the business began back in 1986 with a 25% stake in what was F Sewell & Son – no family ties, just a naming coincidence – and for me that was the most important – it gave me a degree of security.

“I felt that I’d be able to make a difference, be appreciated and have a voice. That’s what I wanted for myself back then, and what I’ve long wanted for the people who work across the group now. 

“People across our business have always had a voice, but the introduction of an employee ownership trust will formalise this and give our people even more autonomy, freedom to make decisions and directly feed into the governance of the group – whoever they are within our business.”

He will continue to chair the group and business operations will remain unchanged, with Jo Barnes, Sewell Estates MD, continuing to steer the leadership team to manage the business alongside the existing governance structure.

People from across the group’s seven estates businesses will be represented on a Co-Owner Council to share employee voice and ideas for taking the business forward.

They will feed into the Trust Board who will govern in the interests of the staff, with an independent chair, Deb Oxley.

Oxley has extensive experience in employee ownership after being CEO of the Employee Ownership Trust for several years, leading a national campaign to raise the profile and impacts of employee ownership.

She said: “Employee ownership is not a new model, but it’s one that’s growing hugely as business owners are looking for a sustainable solution to succession and ensuring their business is a force for good, not only profit.

“Sewell Estates is the perfect example of a business for whom this was a natural next step. They already have a huge amount of employee engagement and input, but this move will solidify that and give people more opportunities to influence change.”

The move to employee ownership covers the Estates side of Sewell Group, which includes businesses operating across the UK from its Yorkshire HQ including; Sewell Investments, Shared Agenda, Community Ventures, Parallel, Sewell Construction, Illingworth & Gregory and Sewell Facilities Management.

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