EO Today Member Spotlight: Ecomerchant

New EOA member, Ecomerchant, is an independent builder’s merchant based in Swindon, servicing the self build, custom build and SME builders with sustainable building materials, renewable energy products, and landscaping and groundwork materials.

Previously owned by WT Burden Ltd, who were themselves an employee owned business, the decision was made in 2014 by Will Kirkman, Managing Director of Ecomerchant, to make the move towards employee ownership. The business adopted an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) model, with 30% of the ordinary shares held for the benefit of all employees.

Ecomerchant was supported in the transition by EOA Specialist Adviser and member, Capital for Colleagues, who provided technical expertise as well as the funding to help form the Trust.  The approach to the transition was inclusive, with staff being brought into the decision making process from the start, allowing for a smooth transition.

Since becoming employee owned, benefits have included an increase in productivity and longer term thinking, plus a more open and consultative approach towards developing the business. In addition, Ecomerchant has seen increased profitability directly as a result of improved service, increased product choice and wider sector engagement; with sales increasing month on month since their incorporation as an independent business in June 2014.

This has been coupled with a rise in the demand for sustainable construction, as more and more people building to their own specification for quality, durable, healthy buildings. Simultaneously, as existing buildings are upgraded to provide more living space at higher energy efficiency standards, the retrofitting market has grown in both volume and quality.

As a result, Ecomerchant is looking to employ more staff this year as their business grows, fuelled by increasing sales in the self build and custom build markets. Moreover, Ecomerchant is quick to point out that customers and suppliers like the fact that they are employee owned and as part of their own exploration of the model, Ecomerchant has referred a number of potential employee owned businesses to Capital for Colleagues.

As an employee owned business Ecomerchant, is looking towards a bright future, and we will no-doubt be hearing about the successes of this fantastic member of the EOA over time.