Co-ops UK development chief moves to helm of Employee Ownership Association

James de le Vingne makes the switch after five years at the Development Unit, which saw him work on shared projects with the EOA

James de le Vingne has moved from his role leading the Development Unit at Co-operatives UK to become chief executive at the Employee Ownership Association (EOA).

Mr de le Vingne has spent five years in the role at Co-operatives UK, where his projects included the #1MillionOwners campaign in partnership with the EOA.

The EOA says it joins as it “embarks on an ambitious transformation and growth plan”, building on the work of his predecessor Deb Oxley, who doubled the association’s membership. It has passed the 550 corporate membership milestone, with the sector seeing its largest growth ever to more than 800 businesses.

The partnership with Co-operatives UK is also responsible for the launch of a new regional programme of growth in employee and worker ownership, the Ownership Hub, with the first region being announced in South Yorkshire.

Related: National employee ownership drive opens first hub in Sheffield

Mr de le Vingne said: “I’m delighted to start in post today and begin building relationships with the EOA membership.

“It is evident in the EOA’s growing membership and new regional initiatives such as an emerging network of Ownership Hubs are helping to unlock the potential of people, businesses, and the economy.

“I look forward to driving the EOAs ambition to be the ‘go to’ place for good employee ownership and the opportunity to influence on the clear fit between growing more employee and worker owner and the government’s Levelling Up ambition to boost opportunity and productivity in the regions.”

EOA chair Chris McDermott said: “James joins the EOA at a really exciting time. His experience at Co-operatives UK and previous roles prepares him well for the challenge of delivering on our new strategy and transforming the association to support the needs of our growing membership. We look forward to seeing him lead the team through this exciting chapter.”

Mr Mc Dermott was himself appointed last year, alongside new president Patrick Lewis, which the EOA says brings “new strategic leadership to the board”.

Deb Oxley, who announced her decision to leave in August, helped with the selection of her successor. She has been with the EOA for nine years – three as membership director and six as CEO.

The EOA said: “During Deb’s tenure she has overseen the growth of the EOA including more than doubling the number of members and creating relationships that have helped drive both the success of the EOA and the growth of the employee ownership sector. This included Deb’s leadership on the Ownership Effect Inquiry, the most significant body of research for the UK employee-owned sector detailed in the report The Ownership Dividend, the Economic Case for Employee Ownership.

Deb Oxley

“The legacy of this work includes a National Strategy for Employee Ownership and a partnership with Co-operatives UK on the #1MillionOwners campaign, which is seeking to grow the number of employees that have a stake and say in the business in which they work to one million by 2030.”

Ms Oxley said: “It has been the greatest honour and pleasure of my career to date to lead the EOA as its chief executive, supported by a brilliant team of colleagues, a superbly qualified board, and an engaged and supportive group of members and stakeholders – and therefore this was never going to be an easy decision.

Related: 2019 Q&A with Deb Oxley

“I am pleased to have developed the EOA to be in the position to grow, the opportunities are both substantial, and within our grasp, and therefore I felt now is the time for someone with a fresh perspective, new ideas and different experiences to lead the organisation into its next chapter of growth and maturity.”

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