Sewell Estates takes first step on employee ownership journey to secure long-term future and protect its culture

The Employee Ownership Association (EOA) congratulates Yorkshire-based Sewell Estates, part of the wider Sewell Group, on becoming part employee owned.

In a move to secure the long-term future of the business and protect its culture, majority shareholder and Group Chair Paul Sewell has moved 25% of the company’s shares into a trust.

Almost 300 people who work across Sewell Estates’ seven businesses are now co-owners, meaning they will have a greater say in how the business is run and the potential to share in any company profits.

Paul Sewell said: “I have always believed in employee ownership – that employees make or break a company and should have a greater stake than just a salary and bonus can provide. They should feed into the strategic concept of a company, its sustainability and overall value.

“My shareholding in the business began back in 1986 with a 25% stake in what was F Sewell & Son (no family ties, just a naming coincidence), and for me that was the most important – it gave me a degree of security; I felt that I’d be able to make a difference, be appreciated and have a voice. That’s what I wanted for myself back then, and what I’ve long wanted for the people who work across the group now.

“People across our business have always had a voice, but the introduction of the trust will formalise this and give our people even more autonomy, freedom to make decisions and directly feed into the governance of the group – whoever they are within our business. It will also protect and enhance the culture we’ve built over many years and our ability to make a difference to the communities in which we work.”

Former EOA chief executive to sit on new Trust Board

Paul will continue to chair the group and business operations will remain unchanged, with Jo Barnes, Sewell Estates MD, continuing to steer the leadership team in place to manage the business alongside the existing governance structure. The added benefit for customers will be having an even more engaged workforce that want to deliver the best quality service in an ethical and sustainable way.

People from across the group’s seven estates businesses will be represented on a Co-Owner Council to share employee voice and ideas for taking the business forward. They will feed into the Trust Board who will govern the interests of the staff, with an independent chair, Deb Oxley OBE.

Deb has a vast experience in employee ownership after being CEO of the EOA for several years, leading a national campaign to raise the profile and impacts of employee ownership.

She said: “Employee ownership is not a new model, but it’s one that’s growing hugely as business owners are looking for a sustainable solution to succession and ensuring their business is a force for good, not only profit.

“Sewell Estates is the perfect example of a business for whom this was a natural next step. They already have a huge amount of employee engagement and input, but this move will solidify that and give people more opportunities to influence change.

“Because they’re co-owners, staff in employee-owned businesses tend to be more entrepreneurial and committed to the company and its success. Having got to know the Sewell Group over recent months, I’m sure this will be the case.”

The move to employee ownership covers the Estates side of Sewell Group, which includes businesses operating across the UK from its Yorkshire HQ including; Sewell Investments, Shared Agenda, Community Ventures, Parallel, Sewell Construction, Illingworth & Gregory, and Sewell Facilities Management.

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