Footprint Ecology ensures a sustainable future for their ecological consultancy

In June 2023, Footprint Ecology made their transition to employee ownership, ensuring a long-term sustainable ownership structure for a business that prides itself on sustainable practices in every sense.

Footprint Ecology is an ecological consultancy based in Dorset, with decades of experience in providing excellent services around nature conservation, including planning policy, countryside access, ecological survey and analysis, and sustainability and climate change advice to its clients.

The business was founded 20 years ago. One of the founders and a director (John Underhill-Day) sadly passed away in 2018, and his widow retained shares in the company.  The sale to the EOT enabled John’s wife and the other shareholders (Durwyn Liley and Sophie Lake, both of whom have a senior role in the business) to realise a fair value for the shares they owned by whilst ensuring the sustainable future of the business by putting the shares in a safe place in the form of an EOT.

The value of these shares is paid for over time out of future profits the company makes – in what is termed a ‘vendor-financed’ deal. Durwyn and Sophie remain fully involved in the running of the business, but with the additional peace of mind that the question of what will happen to their shareholdings has been safely addressed.

Durwyn said “We had explored a range of models for the business, but EOT seemed by far the most sensible approach, ensuring the ethos of the company and independence were not lost while providing the best option for the team”.

Footprint Ecology have already been able to reap some of the benefits of being employee owned, plugging into a local network of other EO businesses to share experiences and best practice, and have been able to pay out bonuses to employees free from income tax.

At Baxendale Employee Ownership, ensuring the long-term sustainability of our clients in transitioning them to an EOT is  fundamental. We pride ourselves on providing clients with an ownership succession solution which protects businesses’ identity and culture as they transition into employee ownership.

Simon Everingham, who led the project, said: “We love working with businesses like Footprint Ecology. Protecting the businesses’ independence, identity and culture was a strong theme throughout the transition. Ownership being placed in a more inclusive, and ultimately sustainable place fitted perfectly with the existing culture and values of Footprint.

The Footprint Ecology EOT, as the sole shareholder of Footprint, will make its decisions in the best interests of the employees, and will ensure that those leading the Footprint are held accountable on its core principles and values, now and in the future.”

Baxendale Employee Ownership project manage the entire transition from beginning to end; advising on the legal, financial and governance structures as well as supporting our clients engage effectively with their employees ensuring that everyone within the business understands the changes taking place.

To find out more about employee ownership and employee ownership trusts and how they might work for your business, contact Simon Everingham simon.everingham@baxendale-eo.co.uk

Simon Everingham

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