Member News – Bluesmith Technology Group Moves to Employee Ownership

Data Analytics and Software Development specialist Bluesmith Technology Group has joined the ranks of a growing number of Employee Owned businesses in the region.

The founders marked Bluesmith’s ten year anniversary by moving a majority 75% shareholding into an employee ownership trust (EOT), with all staff automatically benefitting from the future success of the business.

The move has been welcomed by blue chip customers including Yorkshire Water, Co-op and Oliver Wyman.

The EOT model of ownership is an increasingly popular alternative to the traditional trade sale or merger, and provides tax-free bonuses for staff as well as tax breaks for the vendors.

Neil Warnock, founder director, believes the benefits of employee ownership are more fundamental than financial: “This is evolution not revolution. We have operated Bluesmith on employee-led principles since inception, and this is the logical next step. Sharing rewards and motivating our people in this way provides a solid platform for Bluesmith’s next phase of sustainable growth.”

Bluesmith’s founders will continue to support the business and its customers. Directors and senior management will not change, and the founders are retaining a sizeable minority shareholding.  A key objective of this move is to maintain the company culture and ensure its ongoing independence.

Warnock added: “This is not the creation of a socialist utopia, a talking shop, nor management by committee. Strong management and direction is still essential, and our customer-focussed strategy will continue to be shaped and executed by our people. The fact that we are all now shareholders aligns everybody’s interests even further, and means customers are always dealing with an owner.“

Deb Oxley, chief executive of the Employee Ownership Association (EOA), added: “We congratulate Bluesmith on this natural progression to employee ownership – cementing its Customer Principles and People Principles for the longer term. Employee-led businesses are proven to be more flexible, their employees united with a common purpose and shared responsibility, making them more resilient and adaptable to meet the challenges ahead.”

Bluesmith was advised by Lester Wilson at DWF, Andrew Harrison at Co-ownership Solutions, and Neil Sengupta at Murray Harcourt.