What The Evidence Tells Us

The total number of employee owned businesses is now at 1,418, a 37% increase on the number recorded the previous year. The whole of 2022 specifically was a record year for growth, with a total of 332 new EOBs across the year. 

 Prof Andrew Robinson (University of Leeds) commented: “2022 was a great year for employee ownership, and it looks like 2023 is following in the same footsteps. At least one company becomes employee owned every working day.” 

Growth in the sector has been largely facilitated by the success of the employee ownership trust (EOT): 90% of businesses that are currently employee owned became EOBs in the years following the EOT being enshrined in legislation in 2014.  

Prof Andrew Pendleton (University of New South Wales) commented: “Employee ownership is now clearly in the mainstream of British business: over 300 conversions a year to employee ownership is clear evidence of this. 

“Nearly all conversions to employee ownership involve an EOT to facilitate business succession – this shows the importance of the EOT as a mechanism enabling owners to exit and employees to benefit.” 

This growth is also thought to linked to an increase in awareness across both businesses and advisors, a desire to protect and promote the livelihoods of employees, and businesses wishing to be more sustainable with better impacts for people and the environment. Growth in the sector is also thought to be driven by how EO is regarded as a strong succession option that can best protect a business’s independence, sustain its core values and workforce culture, and protect its existing legacy. 

White Rose Centre Employee Ownership Profile | June 2023

The top 5 sectors have remained consistent since the previous year. These are still comprised of Professional services (39.1%), Manufacturing (13.2%), Construction (12.5%), Wholesale and retail trade (11.6%) and Information & Communication (8.2%). 

 Prof Andrew Robinson again commented here that “the figures show the appeal of employee ownership across the range of British business: employee ownership conversions have taken place in the Professional, Scientific, and Technical sector, Manufacturing, Construction, and Wholesale and Retail, as well as Information and Communications. This shows that employee ownership is a flexible form of ownership that can work in a variety of business activities.” 

 These latest statistics were generated in collaboration with and using methodology developed by EOA research partners Professors Andrew Robinson and Andrew Pendleton of the White Rose Centre for Employee Ownership. The White Rose Centre’s survey results from across employee owned businesses show the sector is delivering better business through giving employees a meaningful say:  

  • Being socially responsible: 71% of EOBs have a statement of purpose, which includes making a positive contribution to society and the environment, while 96% say that looking after the workforce is a key measure of business success. 
  • Governance: 97% of EOBs have at least one form of employee governance, 74% have at least two. 
  • Involved and informed:90% of EOBs report that employees have some or a lot of say in decisions on working conditions, 85% have some or a lot of say in new working methods. 75% of businesses share financial information at least several times a year and a further 21% share it at least annually. 

The Employee Ownership Top 50 for 2023

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. 

These UK employee owned companies have been identified from multiple sources: EOA members, internet searches, professional advisers active in the sector and searches of Companies House. 

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



WREOC profile

Published in June 2023, the Employee Ownership Top 50 shows: 

  • Combined sales: £23.1bn (up 5.1% on a like for like basis) 
  • 181,219 combined employees (up 0.1% on a like for like basis) 
  • Median productivity increase of 1.7%, lower than found the previous year, but above the UK average 

This report shows the highest movers as Rider Levett Bucknall and Go Ape, respectively climbing 8 and 6 places up the table. New to the Top 50 are A.T. Kearney Holdings Limited, Advance Group Holdings Limited, GTD Healthcare Limited, Navigo Health and Social Care CIC, Tullis Russel Group Limited, Possabilities CIC, RBH Limited, Zaha Hadid Limited, Alliance Disposals Limited, Hollis Global Limited, and Kingsland Drinks Group Limited. 

The EO Knowledge Programme 

With partners Ownership at Work and WPI Economics, the EOA is currently working to release the findings of the EO Knowledge Programme in October 2023. 

The Knowledge Programme will: 

  • Create robust estimates of the economic, social and environmental contribution of EO businesses (and how this varies compared to non-EO businesses)
  • Demonstrate research into good practice around EO models and management practices  
  • Support EO businesses to measure and track their social and environmental impact. 

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

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