THOUSANDS of United Co-operatives' staff are receiving windfalls of up to £ 500 worth of free shares after signing up for the society's Employee Share Scheme.
Nearly 10,000 staff at all levels within United are members of the scheme launched two years ago.
The initiative offers free shares, depending on the profit performance of the society which has now enjoyed sustained growth for almost a decade.
The average value of shares received this year is £ 375, compared with £ 354 a year ago.
Total cost in 2003 of this major investment by United in one of its key stakeholder groups is £ 3.8 million.
Some staff who qualify for the latest allocation ? and who have been with United since the start of the scheme ? will now have £ 1,000 worth of free shares.
United Chief Executive Peter Marks told the News: "This scheme represents a major benefit to employees and gives staff a stake in the society's growth and prosperity.
"Following provisions instituted by the Government, co-operatives are able to provide employee share schemes which enables all employees to become shareholding part-owners of the business.
"This is a development that we are delighted to encourage and we will maintain our approach as long as our profitable development continues."
Mr Marks added that not only was the United scheme one of the very few in the Movement, but the payments over the last two years were considerably better than many share giveaways operated by PLCs.
Employees who are non-taxpayers will be able to redeem their shares free of tax after three years, with tax payers having the same opportunity after five years.
United President Peter Senior said the directors were delighted the employee share scheme had given the society an opportunity to recognise and reward the considerable contribution staff had made to United's success in recent years.
He added that the merger from strength of the former Yorkshire and United Norwest societies is proving to be one of the most successful merger decisions within Movement.
Meanwhile United have announced that they have sold their 50 per cent stake in the Freeport Outlet shopping mall at Talke, near Stoke, to Freeport Leisure PLC for £ 7.5 million.
Under the terms of the agreement, Freeport paid United £ 1 million for 25,000 ordinary shares plus an additional £ 6.5 million to cover shareholder loans to the society.
Said Peter Marks: "We decided to accept a very good offer to dispose of our interest in Freeport Stoke Ltd.
"Property ventures of this type are not in the mainstream of our business and the money realised can be invested in our major retail businesses.
"Our various retail businesses at Freeport Talke Outlet Mall are unaffected by this decision."
In this article
- chief executive
- Cumberland County, Maine
- Electronic Arts
- Freeport Leisure PLC
- Freeport, Bahamas
- Freeport, Illinois
- Freeport, Maine
- Freeport, Pennsylvania
- Geography of Illinois
- Geography of the United States
- Peter Marks
- Portland-South Portland-Biddeford metropolitan area
- Social Issues
- Video game industry