Oaklands is Employee Owned!

In November 2019, Oaklands became Employee-Owned. 100% of the business is now owned and controlled by employees through an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT).

What does an Employee Ownership Trust do?

The Trust ensures that Oaklands is run for the benefit of all employees. The Government’s positive view of Employee Ownership enabled the Oaklands founders to sell Tax-Free to existing staff (we pay this cost from trading profits). This structure also allows us to pay Tax-Free bonuses (subject to performance and affordability). Employees do not have an equity share, rather the whole company is held in trust (this enables staff changes without difficulty) – we’re like a teeny John Lewis.

Our trustees…

Our EOT currently has three trustees. Our members are:

  • Phil Harrison, Oaklands Founder.
  • Nick Bennett, Director
  • Ian Stacey, Founder & Partner at Kings Chartered Accountants who acts as an independent, professional trustee.

Later, we may look to appoint a trustee from the operational staff.

Why an EOT?

Nick joined Oaklands (as a general ship-steerer) when Phil (Oaklands founder) was selling the business to a third party. To cut a very long story very short, the sale didn’t go quite as planned and it took a while to hit the reset button. In the meantime, the company thrived and grew. A more typical management buyout had been mooted some years previously, but there had to be a way to reward all the workers and allow Phil to exit the company? Head-scratching was soon replaced with research and advice; in turn followed by an initial meeting regarding Employee Ownership in October 2017! We used a company called Postlethwaites to hold our hand through the process. They are specialists in this area and exceptional! Usually a founder would be looking at succession planning with an EOT as a possibility, this was being suggested and built by the workforce.

The EOT took shape over the coming months and years, finally being signed off in November 2019. We were masters of our own destiny!

This page has been shamelessly adapted from a lovely post I saw on the website of Bluefruit Software (who became Employee-Owned at a similar time).