Employee Ownership Pioneers and Exemplars Celebrated at EO Sector Awards

A night of celebration was enjoyed by 800+ people at the UK Employee Ownership Awards, at the ACC Liverpool, last night (Monday 27th November 2023) with five winners celebrating success.

Image: eoa Conference and Awards by Chris Read-Jones at CRJ Media

Retired Owner of Cash and Carry business Parfetts, Steve Parfett was given a special accolade,  alongside this, four other awards were presented to businesses and one individual.

The UK EO Awards 2023, managed by the eoa, and this year sponsored by GLIDE were held at the annual eoa Conference 2023 Awards Dinner to celebrate the impact employee ownership has for employees and businesses.

This year’s award winners are part of the storytelling that brings to life the recent evidence that collectively employee owned businesses punch well above their weight offering multiple impacts for society and the economy, including 8-12% increased productivity.

In summary the award winners were:

  • Transition of the Year – Wise Productions
  • EO Rising Star of the Year – Pennard Vets
  • Employee Owner of the Year – Sam Moles of Stephens Scown
  • Employee Owned Business of the Year – LUC
  • Philip Baxendale Fellowship Award – Steve Parfett (retired owner director of Parfetts)

The Philip Baxendale Fellowship Award, presented by Baxendale Employee Ownership, the originators of the sector awards which were taken over by the eoa in 2013, was given to Steve Parfett, former Director of Parfetts, a cash and carry business his father founded in 1980.

Steve – who is now retired from the business, transitioned Parfetts to employee ownership in 2008 – is a pioneer of employee ownership, and since then  and until very recently supported the sector through is role on the eoa Board, plus much more widely meeting dozens of businesses to help support their employee ownership journey. Additionally, he has reach out to multiple policy makers over the years to support the eoa to influence the growth of employee ownership in the UK.

Steve Parfett said: “Thank you for the privilege of this award. The most enjoyable experience of supporting the sector has been working with prospective EO businesses and imparting our learnings, experience and hopefully the joy of what we achieved through becoming employee owned.“Since I have retired, I have immense pride for the achievements of Parfetts and the way the employees have driven it forward.”

James de le Vingne, Chief Executive of the eoa said: “Congratulations to Steve who has made an outstanding and impactful contribution to the sector.

“Also, congratulations to all our winners. The awards recognise businesses and individuals that are delivering great employee ownership. Collectively, great employee owned businesses deliver significant uplift in productivity and performance, outperforming their non-EO counterparts across multiple impacts for employees, society, the environment, and the economy.”

Employee Owner of the Year

Judges noted that Sam’s nomination stood out with multiple examples of him stepping up to join the dots, drive processes, bringing people together to help build and drive a great EO culture. Additionally, they commended the work Sam has taken on externally being a visible presence at events and on social media as an EO Champion.

Winner of Employee Owner of the Year Sam Moles, Employee Trustee and Digital Marketing Manager at Stephens Scown, said: “We have learned that after 7 years of Stephen Scown being an employee owned business, being EO is never finished. As an employee trustee you need to always step outside of what you know. The EO journey continues, and innovation is achieved by being confident enough to try new things and work out what works for us.”

EO Transition of the Year

Judges said that Wise Productions demonstrated early engagement with employees which had already been a catalyst for successes in the business. In fact, they felt that the business offered a textbook example of how to engage during a transition, that the eoa would encourage others to follow.

George Foden, Managing Director, Wise Productions, said: “Open dialogue and communication from the start really helps employees to feel involved in EO and gets things working well early on.

“We know we will continue this momentum into our second year. It’s been a busy year and great to come back with an award. The EO community and the eoa has been incredibly generous with their time in supporting us with our transition.”

EO Rising Star of the Year

Judges noted that Pennard Vets had really leveraged their employee ownership to deliver impacts on turnover, growth, and staff satisfaction through embedding a Great EO culture in the team. Not only this, but they also sought to protect their business’ independence and used that to become a champion of EO within their own sector.

Claire Ross, Employee Trustee, at Pennard Vets, said: “It’s really special as our collaborative entry really sums up the journey, we have been on over the last few years. It’s great to walk away with this award and celebrate our success.”

Employee Owned Business of the Year

Judges noted that LUC approached its employee ownership as something that can grow and evolve, never standing still and linking it further into its governance and strategy. This has given them consistently excellent results both financially, but also on how the employee owners feel, which is driving a powerful sense of purpose in the business.

Lucy Gara, LUC Trustee and Associate Planner, said: “We really are thrilled. We do not blow our own trumpet enough. When you look back you realise that you have made a lot of progress. To be recognised in this way is really heartening and we are so glad that we took part in the awards – you could wait for the ‘perfect moment,’ but nothing is perfect and through the process you will find the evidence of your success is much more than you realised.”

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