On the 31st July 2020, Environet UK Ltd became an employee-owned business. It is 100% owned by its staff, who therefore have a vested interest in its success. That’s why everyone at Environet cares more.
- Ownership has been transferred into an Employee Owned Trust (EOT), the beneficiaries of the Trust being the company’s employees – The Partners.
- Founder, Nic Seal remains in the business to support and guide the Directors and will continue to serve the company for the foreseeable future.
- The Trust is made up of 3 key stakeholder groups – The EOT Trustees, The Board of Directors and the Partners. Each has a key part to play in ensuring the success of the business as a whole.
Why the change?
Environet has grown from a start-up in 1996 to a market leader in the management, control and removal of invasive plants, such as Japanese knotweed. The business has grown organically, thanks mainly to a loyal and committed workforce and our supportive commercial and residential customers. Our vision and core values are an important part of our business and our growth.
Nic has been at the helm for 25 years, driving the business forward, improving its services and building the company’s excellent reputation. Nic explains:
“I’m not getting any younger, so succession planning seemed like the responsible thing to do. We looked at all the options for an exit strategy, none of which satisfied our guiding principles, except for the EOT model. Firstly, we want to see Environet prosper for at least another 25 years, so our plan needed to ensure long-term sustainable growth. This ruled out private equity. Secondly, we wanted to make sure Environet’s values and independence were protected. This ruled out a third-party sale to external shareholders, for example to a competitor. Thirdly, we wanted to ensure the business remained well capitalised and financially secure, and to avoid saddling the business with debt. We looked at keeping the shares in the family but felt this unfair on our staff and may not have been in the company’s long-term interests.
“The employee ownership model, specifically an Employee Ownership Trust, seemed to satisfy all our wishes. It recognises the hard work and commitment of our staff and by rewarding them as stakeholders, should motivate them even further to deliver the best possible customer experience. It allows my wife and I to remain working in the business, so that the succession/transition is smooth and seamless. In fact, it seems like a win-win situation and despite looking long and hard at all the detail I’ve yet to find any downsides.”
Looking to the future
Converting to employee ownership is a positive move that secures the next chapter in Environet’s development. It locks in the important values that Environet was founded on and has pursued for the last 25 years, notably:
- Nurturing long-term relationships by giving a fair deal to staff, customers and our suppliers
- Honesty, integrity and professionalism
- Leading the industry with eco-innovative ideas
Maintaining our independence will help us continue along this path for the long term.
Our employees are the people most passionately interested in our values. They are custodians of them and are perfectly positioned to achieve the commercial success necessary to promote those values. Rightly, they should also reap the rewards.
Research proves that employee ownership can deliver commercial as well as emotional benefits: increased productivity, higher morale, greater resilience, reduced staff turnover and less debt.
The bigger picture
Employee ownership is not new. The most cited example is the John Lewis Partnership, founded in 1929. There are now over 450 employee owned companies, some notable examples including Riverford Organic Farmers, Richer Sounds and Arup Group.
According to the Employee Ownership Association, the employee-owned business sector adds to the diversity of Britain’s economy and contributes £30 billion annually to GDP.
Converting to employee ownership also helps to root a business in the local area, supporting jobs and the local economy.
Deb Oxley, Chief Executive of the Employee Ownership Association, said: “We congratulate Environet on its move to employee ownership – sustaining its values and independence for the longer term.
“Businesses that give employees a stake and a say build trust and shared responsibility, therefore uniting leaders and employees behind a common purpose. This leaves the business in a better position to flex and adapt – key qualities needed to help the UK Build Back Better.”
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