Shareholders of one of the country’s largest training providers have handed a majority share of the company to its employees.
HIT Training has joined the likes of John Lewis Partnership in becoming an employee-owned company, one of the first to make the move in the independent training provider sector.
Jill Whittaker, chief executive of HIT Training, said: “This is a decision which allows us to empower all our employers. By selling a significant shareholding to our staff, it means they will be even more incentivised to deliver amazing work which, in turn, benefits our clients and partners.”
To become employee owned, companies place most of their shares in a trust representing its staff. Staff can then take a share of the profits as a bonus, up to £3,600 per year tax free.
Tax benefits also extend to shareholders. Those selling their shares to an employee-owned trust don’t have to pay capital gains tax so long as the trust acquires a majority share.
HIT’s employee ownership trust will own 61 per cent of the business on behalf of their staff.
Whittaker told FE Week that all shareholders were given the option to sell a percentage of their shares to the trust.
One such shareholder was John Hyde, HIT Training’s co-founder and executive chairman, who will shortly be retiring after 40 years with the business.
He said: “As I wind down my involvement with HIT Training Ltd, I’m incredibly proud to see the company it has grown to become. It is so gratifying to think of the many people we have supported with education, helping to further careers and upskill businesses with talented employees – in the hospitality industry and beyond.
“It is fantastic that the employee ownership trust will see all our hard-working employees benefit from this company’s success for years to come, a lasting legacy I am honoured to leave.”
All employees are eligible to participate from day one of employment, with part time staff in line for pro-rata benefits. The business had 432 staff according to its 2021-22 accounts but did not pay a dividend.
Another training company, Seetec Business Technology Centre, is also employee owned, with 51 per cent of its shared held in an employee-owned trust.
Advocates of employee ownership point to the rapid growth of the business model in recent years and the improved service and business performance it brings.
According to the White Rose Employee Ownership Centre, the number of employee-owned business has doubled since 2020 and now totals over 1,030.