What The Evidence Tells Us

The employee ownership sector has seen unprecedented growth in the past few years.

Official figures show that there were 250 new employee owned businesses 18 months between January 2020 and June 2021, making a total of 730 employee owned businesses in the UK in figures from the White Rose Centre for Employee Ownership, an estimated 100 more transitioned later in 2021. Growth has continued in early 2022.

Much of the growth has seen SMEs using the EOT model, as of June 2021 567 businesses in the UK became employee owned using an EOT. In total in 2021, there were 210 transitions to employee ownership via an EOT bringing the total number to more than 700.

In a survey of employee owned businesses (from a sample of 230 businesses) 70% saw employee ownership as a socially responsible thing to do, with 77% having ‘making a positive contribution to society and environment’ as part of their purpose.


White Rose Centre EO Growth Snapshot | June 2021


The sector has been measured at 730 businesses in total (up from 470 in June 2020).

It was a record year for growth in 2020, with 148 new EO businessesthat’s a 31% increase.

So far in 2021 there have been 113 new employee-owned business, up to but not including June 2021.

While growth by regions has London (22%), South East (16%), Scotland (13%), North West (10%) and East of England (10%) in the top 5.

We’ve seen interesting changes in the Top 5 Sectors for growth.

Construction continues to grow – a sector that barely featured three years ago. While professional services, which usually includes; admin and other services’; ‘finance and insurance’; and ‘real estate’, usually also has the component of information and communications. However, the growth in this part of the economy now deserves its own section overtaking health and social care in the Top 5, which now makes up less than 5% of the sector.

  • Professional services 40%
  • Manufacturing 13%
  • Construction 11%
  • Wholesale and retail 10%
  • Information and communications 9%

Growth of these sectors becomes more apparent when you look at the figures including 2020 and 2021 (to June 2021):

  • Professional services 41%
  • Construction 17%
  • Wholesale and retail 15%
  • Manufacturing 10%
  • Information and communication 9%
No. Of EOBs
New EOBs in 2021
New EOBs in 2020

The Employee Ownership Top 50

The Employee Ownership Top 50 is an analysis of the UK’s fifty largest employee-owned companies, compiled by RM2 and published by the Employee Ownership Association.

During May 2021, UK employee owned companies were identified from multiple sources: EOA members, internet searches, professional advisers active in the sector and searches of Companies House June 2020.

The list is ranked by employee numbers. Figures are gathered from companies’ latest annual accounts filed at Companies House since June 2020.

EO Top 50

Download the table

Published in June 2021, the Employee Ownership Top 50 shows:

  • Combined sales: £21bn (Up 6.4%)
  • 180,405 combined employees (up 2.8%)

There are six new entrants – Activate Solutions Group Ltd, Briggs & Forrester (UK) Ltd Cleantec Services Ltd, Punter Southall Group Ltd, Oxford Policy Management Ltd, William Gibbons Group Ltd.


EOT Survey EO Day Snapshot | June 2021

EOT Snapshot

There are 576 employee owned businesses using an EOT in the UK.

There were 139 new EOTs in 2020, while Q1 in 2021 saw a record quarter of 72 EOT transitions.

In January 2021 it was found that EOTs represented 1 in 20 of all private company sales.

Approximately 40,000 jobs have been sustained or created by EOT businesses.


The Ownership Dividend 

In 2018 we published the Ownership Dividend: The case for Employee Ownership after a year-long inquiry into the employee ownership as an economic and social enabler.

The Ownership Dividend is the evidence report from a year-long, independent, business-led Inquiry. Read more about the inquiry

The report found that the Ownership Dividend can deliver a more productive and inclusive economy in three ways:

  • Improving UK productivity – via more businesses unlocking the enhanced performance and productivity powered by the increased personal endeavour and discretional efforts of employees acting with greater common purpose once they become employee owners.
  • Resilient regional economies – via a more sustainable and resilient business model that root jobs locally by providing an effective business succession solution, business independence and the ability to plan growth and investment over the longer term.
  • More engaged employees – via more inclusive, transparent and effective models of corporate governance and employee engagement which better involve, motivate and financially reward individuals through their ownership stake

Download the report

” width=”20″ height=”20″>