December 12, 2021
The board of directors is delighted to announce the start of a new chapter for Lebus Upholstery and Lebus Furniture. One which includes all of our valued employees and cements our commitment to the continued growth of our business, here in Scunthorpe, for the benefit of all of our staff and the community.
The Shareholders of Lebus Upholstery and Lebus Furniture have taken the decision to sell 100% of their shareholding to the company's employees.
This is something the board has been deliberating over for some time, as we tried to determine the best future roadmap for Lebus, how we see the business evolving and most crucially, how we can best protect jobs and secure a safe and positive future for Lebus employees.
With immediate effect, an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) has taken control of both Companies. The Employee Ownership Trust is managed by Trident Trust Company Limited who are based in Jersey. By taking this approach, we have been able to secure the long term ownership and continuity of the business. The current Board members will all remain in situ and fully committed to the business, and operationally, the business and employees roles within it will continue as normal.
The Directors explored various options to secure the future growth and prosperity of both companies.
Private Equity was not something we wanted to consider and a trade sale, while attractive to shareholders, would not have guaranteed the security and continued employment of many of our colleagues who have made such great contributions to the success of the business in recent years. We also wanted to remain within the Scunthorpe area and continue to be a major employer within the town.
The EOT gave us “the perfect compromise”. It ensures the continuity and integrity of the business, while fully engaging a committed workforce in the knowledge that they will all share in the future success of the Company. It also reassures our customer base that the business has taken steps to protect both its employees and the supply chain for the long term.
Fundamentally, the most important consideration for us is the long-term future, growth and success of the Lebus companies long after the current board retires. We want to secure the roles of all of our dedicated staff and provide new opportunities for career advancement for all employees so that they might become the future leaders of the business. The best way we could see to achieve this was to become an employee-owned business. Now, the staff are part of the company's destiny and have a real, tangible investment in a successful business.
This move allows employees to have an influence on decisions made about how the business works and future initiatives. The Directors and management will continue to run the business for the benefit of all with no outside influences. All employees will be represented by an Employee Committee, which can pass on views to the trust and Lebus directors. We will look to grow the role of the committee so it can actually provide benefits for employees without sign off by Lebus management. More info about joining the committee will follow in due course.
The Trust owns the shares, for the benefit of all employees, meaning the value of the trust belongs to the employees. All employees once past the initial probation period are covered by the trust and its benefits.
The trust value is the value of the shares it owns less any debts it has. Initially, it owes the 4 Lebus shareholders for the sale proceeds of the business. But essentially, if the business is profitable, then staff will receive profit bonuses, which are tax-free (meaning the bonuses are worth an additional 20%).
Ultimately all available profits are for the benefit of employees so we all work together to earn and share profits. At the same time any costs, bad quality, bad customer service reduces profit bonus for all employees. It’s now in all of our interests to grow this business, produce amazing products and be the best at what we do. The more successful the business, the better the benefits for all of us.
The employees of Lebus are the beating heart of this company and we want to continue this and provide new opportunities for all members of the Lebus family. By having a personal stake in this business, we hope it will inspire employees to help drive Lebus Upholstery to the next chapter in its journey and hope they will feel a real sense of pride in playing their part in the growth of this business.
There will be further information released as plans develop and employees are of course welcome to ask us any questions. We suggest that staff initially send these to HR, who can either answer directly or collate any queries that need further clarification and the board can then answer these.
In closing, we want to say thank you to all of our employees for the role each of them plays in the operation of this business. We look forward to all of us working together and taking Lebus Upholstery into an exciting future.