Record-Breaking Year for EOA Conference 2019

The EOA conference has achieved a record attendance with more than 715 people from 220 businesses gathering to discuss employee ownership in the UK.

Attendees heard from keynotes Sir Charlie Mayfield of John Lewis Partnership; Jason Parker Director of Make Architects and Peter Lord & David Sproxton Founders of Aardman Animations. Plus Shaun the Sheep made an appearance!

There were more than 330 words captured on the Building Blocks of EO Wall where those who attended recorded the word they most associated with employee ownership – inclusive, relevant, innovative, collaborative, empowering, enduring, productive and sharing were just a few of the words collected.

Plus there were more than 38 speed learning sessions, workshops and seminars at the conference, as well as an EO Debate on whether employee ownership is a route to improving the UK rail service.

There were 6 UK Employee Ownership Award winners and 10 highly commended – creating exemplar stories that help to represent the sector.

There were also two main sponsors JGadd Associates and Postlethwaite as well as three other sponsors; Baxendale for the Awards, GLIDE for the appearance of Martine Croxall & the conference highlights video and finally the 1:1 Diet by Cambridge Weight Plan for the Drinks Reception.

Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chariman of John Lewis Partnership and President of the EOA, said in his speech: “The question is how do you get businesses that move in cycles that stay in balance – employee ownership has a focus on the business, the people who are owners and governance that helps to keep that balance. And it is for this reason that it is a critical time for employee ownership. At a time when things are quite broken and there are some big challenges we have an important role to play.”

Jason Parker; Director of Make Architects, talked about how being employee owned not only shapes the culture at Make Architects but also how they design buildings and environments as well as across their global offices on their 15th year of being employee owned.

Aardman’s Peter Lord spoke about how they secured their creative future through employee ownership. David Sproxton said: “The real value in a creative business lies in its people, their talent, their expertise and their passion – so how do you ensure that you encapsulate that, hold on that and empower them.” While Peter revealed that his one word that most relates to employee ownership as ‘Collabaaaaration’ (with accompanying Shaun the Sheep sketch!) which is crucial for the business.

Jeremy Gadd and Robert Postlethwaite said: “Reflecting our work together supporting a growing number of businesses in their transition to employee ownership, we are delighted to have jointly sponsored the EOA’s 2019 Annual Conference– the most successful to date.”

“In 2019 we have seen a significant growth in the number of companies, from a wide range of sectors, considering and often choosing employee ownership as a succession route.  As our work with companies moving to employee ownership grows, the importance for a successful transition of not only carefully addressing the structural, legal and tax issues, but also placing the highest priority on maximising employee engagement and ensuring effective leadership becomes ever clearer.”

Deb Oxley, CEO of the EOA said: “This is a record year for us which echoes the trajectory of the sector and its relevance to the UK economy during these challenging times. We want to thank all those who attended or supported the EOA Annual Conference in 2019.”