June 30, 2021

Celebrating Employee Ownership in the UK

Communications Director

Our friends across the pond have just celebrated their own employee ownership day (EO Day 2021), releasing some very promising facts and figures along with it to highlight the state of employee ownership in the UK.

The Employee Ownership Association (EOA), the primary nongovernmental organization that serves the employee ownership community in the UK, announced in a recent press release that the state of EO is strong. As of June 2021, there are now 730 employee-owned businesses in the United Kingdom. Of these businesses, 576 of them are employee ownership trusts (EOTs). EOTs differ from ESOPs and worker cooperatives in a variety of ways, not least that they tend to take the form of purpose-based trusts without a retirement plan component. Instead, the employee-owners share surplus value in the form of annual profit sharing plans. The largest proponent of this form of ownership is the John Lewis Partnership, a retailer that spans the British isles. EOTs are beginning to take root in the US as well, with companies like Organically Grown converting from an ESOP to a purpose-based perpetual trust.

Beyond just the raw numbers, the employee ownership community in the UK is growing at a rapid clip. Of those 576 EOTs, 139 were formed in 2020, and an additional 72 were formed in Q1 of this year, the most ever in a given quarter. In fact, 1 out of every 20 private company sales is now to an EOT, with construction outpacing other industries in adopting EOTs.

For more information about the state of employee ownership in the UK, including some wonderful infographics, take a look at the EOA's most recent press updates.