Software company ETL Solutions has become an employee owned business. Using a structure similar to the John Lewis Partnership, one hundred percent of the company’s shares are now owned by a Trust on behalf of the employees. All employees have an equal stake in the business, with the Trust overseeing the business to ensure that it’s run in their best interest.
The change of ownership was set in motion by John Bigerstaff, the former Managing Director of ETL Solutions and its largest shareholder. John is now Executive Chairman, mentoring the new management team and ensuring continuity of service to the company’s clients. He said, “An employee-owned business is the best way of preserving the company and making sure that these highly skilled jobs remain in north Wales. The employee ownership structure means that the new management team has the freedom to make decisions in the long-term interest of the company. Having a stake in the organisation will motivate employees to build on their specialist skills and create a sustainable future in our competitive, highly technical market.”
Based in Parc Menai, the company develops software and services to manage complex data. Clients include global car makers, banks and oil companies. The new management team has been structured to represent different parts of the business, including software development, consultancy and sales.
The new Trust is run by two trustees: one elected by the new directors; and one elected by the employees. The share purchase has funded from the company’s profits.
The transition to an employee-owned structure has been supported by the Wales Co-operative Centre via the Social Business Wales project. Social Business Wales, a project funded by European Regional Development Fund, Welsh Government and part of the Business Wales service, provides one-to-one support to SMEs with succession planning and employee ownership approaches.
Paul Cantrill, employee ownership specialist at Social Business Wales, who has worked closely with his colleague Sarah Owens with ETL Solutions over the past 18 months, said:
“One of the reasons that succession planning can be hard for business owners is because it means making choices that will affect just not themselves but their employees and sometimes the local community as well.
“There are lots of options to consider including going public, a trade sale and management buy-outs but for John and his staff at ETL Solutions an employee ownership trust was the perfect structure for its future direction because it enables the business to be left in the hands of the people who have a vested interest in seeing it prosper. We wish John and ETL Solutions all the very best success for the future and will continue to offer our support where required.”