Sapphire Celebrates Employee Ownership To Accelerate Growth

11 Nov 2021

The Bramhall-based contracting and accountancy firm, Sapphire, has transitioned to be an Employee-Owned business. Using the model made famous by The John Lewis Group, the Sapphire Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) sees the majority of company bought by its employees.

Mark Connor, Managing Director said;

“This is our commitment to the company for the long term, I’ve always seen Sapphire as a collective team of people rather than a few individuals contributing to its success. Ever since our MBO of Sapphire nearly five years ago, we have always been keen to look at alternative ways to further incentivise our workforce and we feel that going down the route of employee ownership is the single biggest incentive for all our staff. We’ve developed a great team and culture which has helped us achieve some significant growth since our journey started, and this has been down to each, and every individual that has worked for Sapphire.”

Sapphire Team

An EOT enables employees to buy shares in the company without using their own funds, meaning collectively the company becomes majority owned by its employees.

On how this has been received by Sapphire’s employees, Mark went on to say;

Sapphire is already a great place to work, but since we informed our employees, there’s been a greater buzz around the office and a real sense that our staff are more invested than ever in the future of Sapphire. This will only serve as a catalyst to all of our clients as we truly believe that this will only add to the unrivalled service they already receive. Day to day, nothing will change with the direction/leadership of Sapphire, however becoming an employee-owned business will help us to achieve higher levels of productivity and innovation as well as being a differentiator to attract the best talent in the industry. There’s great entrepreneurial acumen and determination within the team already, so this is only going to get better as everyone’s effectively got a stake in our business which can only accelerate our already ambitious growth plans.” 

Professional advisory firms: Brabners and Beever & Struthers both worked with the Board to complete the deal which under the new structure sees 74% of Sapphire sold to its employees. 

Stephen Hadlow, Partner at law firm Brabners, advised on the EOT and commented; “The specialist EOT team at Brabners were delighted to have supported Sapphire on its journey to employee-ownership. Sapphire is first and foremost a people business and so a putting together a strategy to becoming employee owned was a natural step, which will help the business further retain and attract talented individuals.

Iain Round, Partner at the accountancy firm Beever & Struthers said;

Sapphire has been a client of ours for a number of years and we were delighted that the Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) transaction was successfully completed. After discussing the option of an EOT with the Directors, we were pleased that they decided to go down this route. This is our seventh EOT transaction that the Beever and Struthers specialist EOT team have undertaken, which included partner and head of corporate finance John Jones, and tax partner Stephen Harding. We are sure with the additional benefits given by employee ownership the business will go from strength to strength.” 

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