Long-established marketing agency embraces ‘culture of collaboration’ as it announces move to employee ownership

Full-service marketing agency Leader Marketing Partnership, based near Stratford-upon-Avon, has transitioned its ownership structure to an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT).

Leader, one of the UK’s longest-established marketing and PR agencies, was founded in 1965 by Bryan Holden. His son James Holden joined the company in 1983, becoming managing director in 1991.

Having successfully guided the Leader team for more than 30 years, James will be departing from his role as MD and the transition to employee ownership was the most logical next step for Leader’s future.

In preparation for the transition, Leader changed its name from Leader Communications to Leader Marketing Partnership in 2019.

James, who will retain an involvement as a consultant and minority shareholder, said: “Our philosophy at Leader has always been to provide a director-led service driven by senior marketing specialists who bring experience from every level and aspect of agency and in-house marketing.

“The Leader team, some of whom I have worked alongside for over 20 years, are all committed to providing the best possible service for clients and this was integral to our resilience and growth during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Becoming employee owned recognises their contribution and I am confident that the Leader legacy is in safe hands with a team that share a commitment to keeping its values alive.

“As the agency moves to an EOT model, the culture of collaboration that being employee owned brings is vital.”

New management team in place

Three of Leader’s current workforce – Faye Hampson, Tracy Taylor, and Alister Foye – are stepping up to become directors and will comprise the agency’s new senior management team.

Newly appointed managing director Faye said: “It’s a really exciting time for Leader and I feel privileged to be part of its new leadership team. We are incredibly grateful to James, who has so brilliantly led Leader for over three decades, and share his commitment and passion for delivering great work for our clients.

“We recognise that creative work with compelling results demands a collaborative environment and becoming employee owned gives us even more opportunity to share ideas, interests and growth as a team.”

Employee ownership benefits

Employee ownership is one of the fastest growing business succession solutions in the UK, where there are now more than 1,000 employee-owned businesses, with the sector more than doubling in the past three years.

The fast pace of growth amongst businesses has taken off with the use of the employee ownership trust (EOT), introduced by the government in 2014 to encourage long-term employee ownership, and one in every 20 private company sales is now to an EOT, with Leader Marketing Partnership joining a network of EOTs in the UK that include Richer Sounds and Go Ape.

James de le Vingne, Chief Executive of the Employee Ownership Association (EOA), said: “We congratulate our members Leader Marketing Partnership on its transition to employee ownership; securing the ethos, values and culture of the business, as well as rooting jobs in Warwickshire.

“Businesses that give employees a stake and a say build trust and shared responsibility, uniting leaders and employees behind a common purpose, and leaving businesses in a better position to flex and adapt.”

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