JJO plc Becomes Employee Owned Trust

LEADING Rossendale manufacturer J and J Ormerod Plc has become an employee-owned business giving the workforce a vested interest in the company’s future success.

The formation of an Employee Ownership Trust, EOT, at the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom business, based in Bacup with sites across the Valley, came about after Joint Managing Director Lee Greenhalgh decided to step back after 44 years.

Following the death of Allan Greenhalgh in 2013, the business has been jointly owned by his children: Lee, his brother Stephen fellow Joint Managing Director and sister Gill, Purchasing Director.

Stephen said: “We looked into private equity or a trade sale, but employee ownership seemed the best of both worlds as it secured the long-term future of the business and it also secured our father’s legacy.

“The employees are fundamentally the most important part of the business and now indirectly they are all co-owners and will be able to share in future profits.”

The existing shareholders have sold 67 per cent of their shares to the newly established Employee Ownership Trust, with two trustees in charge Stephen and Trade Sales Manager Patrick Wilkinson, who is the employee representative.

Stephen said: “We have four employees on the steering committee who have been appointed because of their skill sets.

“The steering committee ensures employees from all areas of the company have a say in how the business is run.

“I am still Managing Director and the other directors are still in situ. The changes have been outlined to suppliers and customers, but it is very much business as usual.”

JJO was founded in 1876 and the Greenhalgh family has owned the company for half of its lifetime.

Stephen said “Although Gill and I remain committed to the business, and Lee will remain as a non-executive director, we realised that the next generation are many years away from acquiring the skills to operate such a large and complex operation. So there was no natural exit strategy.

“Following professional advice, it seemed an Employee Ownership Trust would provide a ‘best of both worlds’ solution – safeguarding the continuity of the business and enabling the shareholders to extract some value, while maintaining an ongoing stake, as well as securing the future well-being of JJO’s extended family.”

More than half of the workforce has been with the company for 10 years or more and 70 of the 330 employees have worked for the business for more than two decades.

While only a small number of companies are EOT businesses it is becoming more popular.

The company was advised by Lindsay Hemmingway of Knights PLC and Beever and Struthers Accountants.