Wales Co-operative Centre helps TV company become employee owned

‘I believe passionately that the staff are a key part of the business and that they can all benefit from their efforts’

Development agency Wales Co-operative Centre is managing the conversion of a Welsh independent TV company into an employee owned trust.

In what’s believed to be UK broadcast industry first, Dylan Huws, managing director of Caernarfon-based Cwmni Da, is changing the business model of the £5m-a-year firm.

Mr Huws is selling his shares to the trust, and as part of the process has appointed staff to the board. Three trustees, including a staff representative, will be appointed to look after employees’ interests.

“Shares will be held on behalf of the workforce in a trust fund and the trading company will need to prove to the trustees that the decisions they’re making are beneficial to the workforce,” said Mr Huws.

Cwmni Da employs 50 staff and has a track record of making factual, entertainment, drama and children’s programmes, mainly in Welsh, for broadcaster S4C.

Mr Huws added: “Creating an employee-owned trust feels like it is a perfect fit because I believe passionately that the staff are a key part of the business and that they can all benefit from their efforts.”

Wales Co-operative Centre’s Paul Cantrill, lead advisor for Cwmni Da’s conversion into an employee owned trust, said: “Employee ownership offers a succession approach that is fair to everyone. Business owners can leave their business in the knowledge the future of their employees has been safeguarded. Employees get to take control of their own destiny and continuity of supply is assured for suppliers and customers.

Related: Employee ownership is the answer to the UK’s problems, says expert panel

“Evidence shows that employee owned businesses are resilient. When employees retain ownership of a business, it is much harder for that business to be sold to external competitors, allowing it to grow whilst staying firmly rooted in the community where it was started.

“I am delighted to have been a part of helping Cwmni Da secure the future for the business and the employees and wish them further success in the years to come.”

Wales Co-operative Centre delivers the Social Business Wales project, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.