Source: Employee Ownership Association
The successful launch in 1988 of a wire joining and tension device called a Gripple not only gave the company producing it its name but also provided the impetus for employee ownership. The award-winning Sheffield company has since developed over 500 new products and its operations now span Europe and North America, with an office near Strasbourg and another just outside Chicago. Turnover went from £2.5 million in 1994 to £21 million in 2006 and the company's aim is to grow by at least 40% a year for the next five years.
Having sold one company, giving 10% of the proceeds to its staff, Gripple's founder and Chair, Hugh Facey MBE, wanted to ensure that the workforce of his new firm also enjoyed some of the financial benefits by encouraging them to take a stake in the business. Rather than give them equity, he invited employees to purchase non-voting shares. Around 58% of the initial 20-strong workforce bought shares.
Now 78% of current employees, who number 220, own some equity. To ensure employee share ownership remains high, since 2004 new employees have been required to buy £1,000 worth of shares one year after joining the firm. The firm offers loans at the prevailing Bank of England rate to enable employees to purchase equity.
Publication Date: 2009-01-01