John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, speaking at the TAS Partnership, an employee owned transport company, said that wider levels of employee ownership could build an entrepreneurial state at a local level.

Workers threatened with closure or takeover should have first refusal on buying out and running their place of work. With two-thirds of Britain’s family businesses at risk of closure when their owners retire, employee ownership can help to solve a looming succession crisis.

Below: research by the Employee Ownership Association (EOA) and the White Rose Centre for Employee Ownership

Two local examples were not ‘rescue’ initiatives. Architects Design Partnership (ADP), founded in 1965, now has a base in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter and studios in Delhi, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Oxford and Sherborne.

As the first step on the journey to becoming employee owned ADP adopted an employee ownership structure and the majority of the shares in the company, transferred to an Employee Owned Trust, are held in trust for all of ADP’s employees giving them a genuine say in the direction of the practice.

A building services specialist based in Aston, J S Wright, has been bought out by its senior management team, following the retirement of previous owners.

It currently employs more than 150 staff and was voted one of the UK’s Top Ten Specialist Contractors to Work For in the 2016 Construction Enquirer Awards. This means that it is part employee-owned – a management buyout.

It would be good to see other employees offered a stake in the company – see the model of common trusteeship, the Scott Bader Commonwealth, which Birmingham author Fiona Joseph will be portraying in her forthcoming biography of its president, Godric Bader, ‘Held in Trust’.

A chart of the Top 50 Employee Owned businesses – the largest – has been compiled by the Employee Ownership Association. It includes John Lewis and Arup.

Readers who would like to know more about the employee buyout process could click on a link to an 8-minute video in which Graeme Nuttall explains how an employee buyout can be an attractive alternative to a trade sale or management buyout. To access the FREE content, click on the ‘Buy Now’ button and follow the instructions to register as a New User and select ‘Invoice Me’; they will NOT be charged.