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  • Published:
    03 October
  • Area of Law:
    Deals, Employee Ownership

An employee-owned future for West Midlands freight company

European freight forwarding firm, Espace Europe Ltd, has moved to an employee ownership model in order to secure the long-term future of the business.

The business, which has its headquarters in Lichfield, Staffordshire, handles international freight operations across a number of sectors, including automotive, aerospace and plastics and packaging

After trading for over 17 years, Espace Europe has decided to switch to an employee ownership model to secure the longevity of the business and reward its 15 staff members, many of which have been with the business since it started.

Espace Europe opted for the transfer of shares into an Employee Ownership Trust, which allows employees to influence the immediate running of the business, whilst ensuring that provisions are in place to protect its long-term success. 

Tony Shally, managing director at Espace Europe Ltd, said: 

“Choosing to adopt an Employee Ownership model is one stage of our exit strategy and what better way to leave the business than in the hands of those who know it the best. Thinking about the future, we had no desire to sell or split up the business, and indirect ownership offered us an opportunity to secure the legacy of the business and reward our all of our staff members in the process.

“We pride ourselves on the strong vision held by everyone at the business, helping to ensure that we are not only the best in our class, but trusted and respected by our customers and staff alike. Today marks a huge day for our business and we look forward to many more successful years.”

The process of switching to an employee ownership model was guided by Shakespeare Martineau, who provided legal support in all aspects of the transaction, and Odyssey Corporate Finance, who acted as lead advisers.

Gary Davie, head of employee ownership at Shakespeare Martineau, said: “Choosing Employee Ownership is a powerful move. It has the ability to empower staff members to not only help carry a business going forward but also to take a more active and involved role in both its day-to-day and long-term success.

“Espace Europe has marked itself out as a business that really cares for its employees and I’m sure it will continue to be successful going forward. Above all, the decision to move to an employee-owned structure is one that will benefit customers and provide security for long-term commercial relationships.”

Mike Yiannis, director at Odyssey Corporate Finance, said: “Espace Europe had been considering Employee Ownership as an option for quite some time. We worked together to ensure that the deal was structured in such a way that was not only tax efficient, but also met the commercial objectives of the business. Above all, I think we’ve come to an arrangement that leaves all parties happy and positive about the business’ future.”

Deb Oxley, CEO of the Employee Ownership Association, said: “We congratulate Espace Europe on its transition to employee ownership and great to see them working with our member Shakespeare Martineau to achieve this.

“The move to employee ownership will secure the future of the business, its employees and its contribution in the local economy, while retaining the brand, ethos, values it holds dear, for many years to come.”

"This is exactly why we like to work with people who understand the industry and can identify potential issues and create solutions."

Jon Saltinstall, Senior HealthCare Banking Consultant, Lloyds Bank