Top 50 employee-owned companies report sales of £20.5bn

Fifty of the UK’s top 50 employee-owned companies have combined sales of £20.5bn and a total of 151,000 employees. The list, released on Employee Ownership Day (4 July),...

Fifty of the UK’s top 50 employee-owned companies have combined sales of £20.5bn and a total of 151,000 employees.

The list, released on Employee Ownership Day (4 July), is topped by John Lewis with revenue of £8.5bn and over 80,000 employees.

Other co-operatives on the list are paper and board manufacturer Tulis Russell and polymer manufacturer Scott Bader.

The Employee Ownership Top 50, ranked by number of employees, is made up of 23 businesses that are 100% owned by employees, while nine companies are less than 50% owned.

The report was published by the Employee Ownership Association (EOA), the voice of employee-owned businesses in the UK, and compiled by Capital Strategies. It shows there was a 4.6% increase in sales in the sector, while the number of employees rose 3.3%.

Thirty-eight of the companies also have no net debt, and productivity year-on-year has increased by 4.5%.

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EOA chief executive Iain Hasdell said: “Employee ownership contributes some £30bn to UK GDP each year and is a growing economic force.

“The statistics we have published provide further evidence that employee-owned businesses outperform those that are externally owned. With 4.5% year on year productivity increases and 25% annual increases in profits, employee-owned businesses really are at the forefront of driving economic growth in the UK.”

Nigel Mason, co-founder of Capital Strategies, added: “These are exciting times for employee ownership. The Employee Ownership Top 50 is a powerful addition to the body of information and knowledge, highlighting the excellent performance of employee-owned businesses. Capital Strategies is delighted to be associated with this initiative.”

During the day, think-tank Centre for London published a report, Local Owners, that looks at how to unleash employee ownership in the UK.

The report argues that while recent tax reforms have played an important part in laying the foundation for the expansion of employee ownership in the UK, delivering an employee ownership revolution now requires a decisive shift of policy focus to the local level.

Sponsored by the John Lewis Partnership, the report describes the development of three local ‘clusters’ of employee ownership in Europe and America and shows how the power of personal networks and cultural norms have helped these clusters to grow in size.

Drawing on the experience of these clusters, the report recommends a number of key policies to encourage the growth of employee ownership but stresses that this will look different in each locality, including: a new seed fund, mentoring prize for rising stars, toolkits for local ‘evangelists’, and events next year to inspire and share knowledge with entrepreneurs and business owners in England and Scotland.

Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of John Lewis Partnership, said: “These are exciting times for employee ownership. There’s unprecedented interest from both the public and private sectors fuelled by the desire for a better form of ownership. There has been tremendous progress over the last year or so and we hope that it will encourage more companies to pass their business onto their staff and help create a more plural and balanced economy.”

• Read the report online: www.capitalstrategies.co.uk/eo50

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