Outdoor adventure company Go Ape has transferred the majority of shares in the business to an employee ownership trust, allowing employees to have a stake in the company’s success.
Ninety per cent of Go Ape shares have been handed over to employees, with the remaining 10% retained by founders Rebecca and Tristram Mayhew.
The forest activity business employs around 1,000 UK staff across 35 locations. It also operates in 16 US states.
“Go Ape has always felt like part of our family. We knew deep down we would never be comfortable selling the business to investors,” Rebecca Mayhew said.
Managing director Nick Hall said: “Tris and Becs have transferred the ownership of Go Ape to those that truly care about its’ values and future. Together we will continue to grow the business for the benefit of our employee co-owners, customers, environment, communities and partners.”
Announcing the change last week, Go Ape said its employees were passionate about the company and its values and “best positioned to achieve success necessary to promote [its] values”.
The employee ownership model has increased in popularity over recent years, though the largest – John Lewis Partnership – has been owned by its employees for more than 100 years.
Earlier this year HR consultancy network The HR Dept announced it would transfer to employee ownership from 1 November, while employer marketing agency Blackbridge Communications last year transferred 65% of its shares to a trust managed on behalf of employees.
According to the Employee Ownership Association (EOA) there are more than 730 employee-owned businesses in the UK.
A survey of employee-owned businesses by the EOA found 70% saw employee ownership as a socially responsible thing to do, with 77% stating that “making a positive contribution to society and environment” was part of their purpose.
The Labour party has also been supportive of the concept of employee ownership and in 2018 suggested it wanted to see all companies with 250 or more employees to give shares to their workers.