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S&W Transitions To Employee Ownership Trust Mode

By Donna Ahern
S&W Transitions To Employee Ownership Trust Mode

S&W Wholesale has announced that it has become one of the largest known businesses in Northern Ireland to move to an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) model of ownership.

This structure will see control of the business move from its current private ownership to a Trust, which will manage and control the shares indirectly on behalf of employees.

Day to day control of the 106- year-old business, which is headquartered in Newry, Co Down, will remain in the hands of the current leadership team.

Legal Structure 

The EOT legal structure, which is widely used in other parts of the UK, has been relatively unexplored in Northern Ireland.

“We didn’t want to become another name swallowed up by the bigger players or potentially bought and closed by an investor,” said Norman Savage, director, S&W.

“We have a loyalty to our people, customers, and supply partners. We also have ambitious growth plans, with a new purpose-built site currently in the planning system. We want this ambition to carry through to the next generation of the business.”

'Considerable Advice And Guidance'

Michael Skelton, CEO, S&W said that they took “considerable advice and guidance” before making the decision and that they are "satisfied that the EOT model gives them everything that they need for the future sustainability of the business."

"Our shareholding will effectively be bought over time by the Trust, with the majority of the business shares held in the Trust collectively on behalf of the employees," he added.

"This means that when the company does well, the employees, as beneficiaries, will do well. The nature of the structure allows for incentives such as tax- free bonuses and other inducements as the business model continues to mature.”

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