Smooth Employee Ownership Switch for Wavehill

An Aberaeron-based social and economic research company has become employee-owned, cementing its team-orientated ethos and business approach.

Wavehill, which was established in 1992 with offices in Aberaeron, Bristol, Newcastle and London, has developed a strong reputation and proven expertise in the fields of social and economic research, evaluation and impact assessment.

The company has moved to an Employee Ownership model with the support of the Employee Ownership Wales team at Social Business Wales, which offers fully-funded guidance and support on Employee Ownership and Share Schemes to Welsh businesses.

Founder Director of Wavehill, Mark Willis, said: “We have clear company values, an extremely strong ethic and a culture based on collaboration and respect, so when it came to continuity and succession planning, becoming employee owned was a natural progression for Wavehill.

“For us, it’s a commitment to our team, a number of whom have been with us for many years and have been instrumental to our success. We want to empower them; share in the success that we’ve built and make our employees feel invested in our continued growth.”

The Employee Ownership Wales team at Social Business Wales has advised over 50 companies in Wales on ownership transition including the likes of Tregroes Waffles and independent TV production company, Cwmni Da.

Paul Cantrill, from the Employee Ownership Wales team, said: “Mark’s route was a natural progression of the company ethos and has become a true win/win transaction for all parties involved, and we thank him for trusting us to help manage the process. Many companies in Wales are recognising that the Employee Ownership the model is a smart choice for them, particularly if they have been grown from seed, have a sense of responsibility towards their employees, and want to support and to retain local jobs. We would encourage other business owners to get in touch to find out how Employee Ownership could support their business to thrive.”

Wavehill were further supported throughout the transition by Acuity Law and by BPU Chartered Accountants. Natalie Jones and Steve Berry from Acuity Law advised on the legal aspects of the project. Steve Berry expressed his support for the new ownership structure: “It accords well with the economic and political back-drop for businesses like Wavehill where people are the key asset. Wavehill is a great example of a business that has grown on talent and has succeeded by taking a long-term strategic view to its development. The new Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) structure is a powerful model and one that will give Wavehill employees a sense of achievement as well as a financial stake in the company’s future success.”

Huw Palin and Martin Knight of BPU Chartered Accountants assisted the team at Wavehill with advice on the valuation of the company and the various taxation issues to consider when establishing an EOT. Huw Palin said: “We are seeing increasing interest from our clients in the EOT model as an effective means of business succession, and we believe that with the support of Employee Ownership Wales we will see many more successful examples of them in the future. An EOT works particularly well where there is a combination of both forward looking management and highly motivated employees as is the case at Wavehill.”

Watch Mark Willis explain more about Wavehill’s transition to Employee Ownership here: