Home improvement firm becomes employee owned with help from Quantuma

14 September 2023 Consultancy.uk 3 min. read

The Specialist Blind Co has become the latest UK company to become employee owned after transferring to an employee ownership trust. The firm was supported in the transition by Quantuma professionals.

Peter Matthews, owner of The Specialist Blind Co, commented, “The transition to employee ownership is an exciting step in SBC’s development and I would like to convey my profound appreciation to our remarkable team and loyal customers who have supported us throughout the years. I look forward to working alongside the team as we continue to evolve and innovate to provide exceptional products to our valued customers.”

Starting out in 1995 as just one man selling specialist blinds, 25 years later, The Specialist Blind Co (SBC) has grown to a firm of 60 people, doing business across all of mainland England. The shift to an employee ownership trust (EOT) enables owners Peter and Helen Matthews to realise their investment while ensuring the Surrey-based business remains true to its legacy, without impacting client expectations.

Home improvement firm becomes employee owned with help from Quantuma

The owners added that they were exceptionally keen” to keep the business in employee hands, and so opted against maximising value through selling to a third-party buyer, as well as declining to introduce third-party debt – which could have been used to accelerate payments to the firm's existing shareholders. Following the transfer to the EOT, Peter Matthews will remain as the firm’s managing director, supported by long-term employees Cheryl Ede and Sarah Edwards.

Quantuma acted as the trusted financial advisor to SBC throughout the process. Led by managing director Adrian Howells, the team provided lead financial advice, company valuation and tax structuring, whilst leveraging its extensive experience in delivering M&A transactions to navigate complex issues and deliver a successful transaction.

Howells remarked, "We are really pleased to have delivered this transaction for Peter and Helen and helped them to navigate the transition to an employee-owned model. Working with Peter has been an absolute pleasure. He has built an impressive business and clearly cares a lot about his team and his customers. We look forward to seeing SBC’s team share the company’s success under employee ownership."

Growing popularity

EOTs grant employees effective ownership of the company. Studies have shown such structures to motivate employees to drive further growth, as they hold a stake in the long-term success of the company and stand to benefit from any future dividends. This not only helps to improve employee retention but can also help to recruit the best new industry talent.

Due to these factors, EOTs are the fastest growing form of business ownership in the UK. According to the Employee Ownership Association, the total number of employee owned businesses in the UK is now at 1,418, having grown by 332 in 2022. This was a 37% increase on the number recorded the previous year, and a record year for growth.

"Employee ownership is becoming more popular than ever, being used increasingly often to empower employees, whilst securing a tax-efficient exit for shareholders, and creating a sustainable base for future growth,” Howells added.