Oxford Designers & Illustrators transition to employee ownership

When Roger Noel took over the running of Oxford Designers & Illustrators Ltd, he wanted to make sure that the business would be sustainable for the future.

With several changes of directors in previous years and payouts when they had left the business, General Manager Roger felt it was his duty to make sure that they wouldn’t find themselves in this position again.

Transitioning to indirect employee ownership in 2017, the team of 12 employee owners who include designers, illustrators, typesetters and proofreaders, bring traditional standards to bear on their work, using modern technology and methods.

Now approaching 50 years of providing specialist design and illustration for educational books, as well as producing materials for businesses, colleges, museums, government departments and charities, the Kidlington based studio also supports aspiring authors who want to self-publish their own books.

With changes in the industry meaning that they previously had to lose staff from some areas of the business, the company is now recovering well and has a busy schedule of work.

Roger explains his thinking on employee ownership like this, “In an industry where it is difficult to predict the work, the move to becoming employee owned has made us more sustainable for the future and provides a more formal structure for staff to feel more involved in the running of the company.”

“We also feel it makes our business more attractive when recruiting and it has had a really positive reaction from two people who recently joined the business.”

“There is more transparency now so the employees can see where we are financially, and that when we are struggling there will be no additional reward – but that in the future as we continue to work together we can work towards being able to share in the rewards.”

Production Manager and current elected employee representative, John-Paul Clough added, “Some of us are very enthusiastic about this; others have been less interested but are supportive and becoming more involved, and I think everyone can see that this is a positive step forward for the company.”

Deb Oxley, CEO of the EOA said: “We congratulate Oxford Designers & Illustrators on its transition to employee ownership and its drive to make the business sustainable for the future, putting its employee owners at the centre of driving success.”