Member spotlight: TTP Group

Company name: TTP Group plc

Number of employees: 400

Headquarters: Melbourn Science Park, Cambridge

EO established: 1987

TTP Group plc is Europe’s leading independent technology and product development company. Through three principal operating companies, it combines the strengths of science, engineering and business enterprise to develop new technologies, new products, and new businesses across core sectors, including healthcare, communications, printing and consumer products.

An integral feature of the company culture, employee ownership has been embedded at TTP since its founding in 1987.

With the business originally funded by a combination of employee share subscriptions and a selection of corporate investors, over time and as external shareholders exited, 90% of the company’s shares are now in the hands of employees, former employees and an employee benefit trust (EBT).

All staff are eligible to become shareholders from the date that they commence their employment and departing employees are offered the opportunity to retain their shares even after leaving the company. This is partly to encourage a long-term view of shareholding and partly a reflection of the fact that TTP’s business involves investing to build intellectual property value over extended periods before a return arises (if it does at all).

Generous staff loans are also offered to support employees in acquiring shares through TTP’s internal market. This operates continuously, with would-be sellers offering parcels of shares for sale at a guide price set by them and a secret reserve price operating to prevent the seller being obliged to sell below a set cost. A bid period runs for two weeks, during which anyone can submit a sealed bid. All the bids are then examined, with shares allocated to the highest bidder(s).

TTP simultaneously operates a share incentive plan (SIP) and a bespoke scheme. Under the latter, employees are able to save via payroll and/or apportion lump sums throughout the year in order to receive an award of shares, along with a pro-rata grant of options. The options are granted with an exercise price at a discount to the market value of the shares.  The scheme is able to deliver a far greater number of shares into the hands of participating employees than the SIP.

Whilst all staff are shareholders, no individual owns more than 5%, supporting TTP Group’s desire to avoid excessively hierarchal structures.

The ethos of employee ownership is evident at every level of the business and wholly complements a raft of additional company policies and practices designed to promote equality and fairness within the business. One such practice is the payment of an otherwise pro-rata annual bonus, where the highest salaried staff receive an award which is capped, whilst the lowest-paid received an enhanced award.

Together, these initiatives combine and contribute to driving business success, through high levels of employee engagement and talent retention, with the internal commitment to employee ownership plain to see.

In the year just ended, staff have collectively contributed close to £2 million to the share schemes and whilst this has been a particularly exceptional year, it is indicative of the strong belief TTP employees have in employee ownership as an empowering and financially rewarding business model.