Talk Training, which provides apprenticeship training to most of Wales’ University Health Boards as well as many public and private sector companies, has transitioned into Employee Ownership (EO).
Managing Director Jon Hughes, Operations Director Alison Anthony and Financial Director Steve Evans, have now sold their interest in the company to an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT), which owns the shares on behalf of all 32 employees.
Jon, Alison and Steve will remain at Talk Training supporting the new Trust Directors – Tanya Parmee, Sales manager, Lisa Harris, Operations manager – and an independent Trustee Director, who is yet to be appointed.
Alison explained the reason why Talk Training has transitioned to becoming employee-owned: “We have been looking at succession planning for about four years and went so far as to have some serious discussions with a company about a trade sale. But some of the discussions we had didn’t feel right to us. We have such loyal and dedicated staff here, we realised that a new company would potentially move Talk Training away from our base at Nantgarw and drastically change things for our team, which we didn’t want to see happen.
“Having acquired Talk training ourselves nearly 20 years ago, we knew the advantages of getting wider staff ownership and so looked into that option, and thanks to the help and guidance of Cwmpas, this is the avenue I am so pleased we have gone down”
Jon Hughes, Talk Training’s Managing Director, added: “The formation of the EOT is a major step change in the development of this company, and one of the most exciting since its incorporation over twenty-six years ago.
“It will allow our staff, and our future staff, to feel even more connected to the company as they will have a real stake in the success of the business. They can all take pride in knowing that they are shareholders that are building for the future.”
Talk Training was advised on the transition into employee ownership and the setting up of the EOT by Social Business Wales, which is delivered by Cwmpas.
Branwen Ellis, specialist Employee Ownership Trust Advisor for Social Business Wales, said: “It is great to see Talk Training transition into Employee Ownership, having already experienced the benefits of a management buyout.
“Succession planning is never easy, but having explored every avenue, Jon, Alison and Steve saw that an EOT was the best option for them and will remain at the company to support the Trustee Directors as they take up their new roles, I wish Talk Training all the very best for the future.”
Abbie Baker, of Berry Smith, who acted on behalf of Talk Training on the legal side of the EOT, said: “We are delighted to have worked with the former shareholders of Talk Training to help implement their vision of transferring the ownership of the business to its employees.
“Berry Smith has worked with Talk Training for over 25 years and throughout that period, its employees have been at the heart of the business. And thanks to this EOT will remain so.”
Azets also helped Talk Training obtain the HMRC approval for the EOT and provided tax advice to the exiting shareholders. Leighton Reed, tax partner at Azets, said: “I am absolutely delighted for the team at Talk Training. An Employee Ownership Trust is the ideal solution to preserve the future of the company and give the employees a real sense of ownership in a tax efficient manner.”
Gambit Corporate Finance Manager, Michael Dunn, who supported the Directors on the valuation of the business, said: “We were delighted to advise Jon, Alison and Steve on strategic succession options. EOTs are becoming an increasingly common vehicle to effect transition of ownership and succession strategies, particularly in the training sector. We wish the shareholders, the business and the employees every future success.”
The Employee Ownership Wales service is part of the Social Business Wales programme delivered by Cwmpas. It is part of the Business Wales family and funded by Welsh Government and the European Regional Development Fund.