A MAJOR manufacturer has become an employee-owned business giving the workforce a vested interest in the company's future success.

Rossendale-based J and J Ormerod Plc took the step after joint managing director Lee Greenhalgh decided to step back from day-to-day operations after 44 years.

Following the death of owner Allan Greenhalgh in 2013, the business has been jointly owned by his children: Lee, fellow joint managing director Stephen and purchasing director Gill.

Stephen Greenhalgh said: “We looked into private equity or a trade sale, but employee ownership seemed the best of both worlds as it secured the long-term future of the business and it also secured our father's legacy.

“The employees are fundamentally the most important part of the business and now indirectly they are all co-owners and will be able to share in future profits.”

The kitchen, bedroom and bathroom supplies manufacturing business, found in Colonial House on Lee Road in Bacup, was founded in 1876 and has been owned by the Greenhalgh family for half of its lifetime.

More than half of the workforce has been with the company for 10 years or more and 70 of the 330 employees have worked for the business for more than two decades.

The existing shareholders have now sold 67 per cent of their shares to the newly established Employee Ownership Trust.

Two trustees will be in charge, Stephen Greenhalgh and trade sales manager Patrick Wilkinson, who will act as the employee representative.

Mr Greenhalgh said: “We have four employees on the steering committee who have been appointed because of their skill sets.

“The steering committee ensures employees from all areas of the company have a say in how the business is run.

“I am still managing director and the other directors are still in situ.

"The changes have been outlined to suppliers and customers, but it is very much business as usual.”

While only a small number of companies across the UK are EOT businesses, the option is becoming more popular.

Mr Greenhalgh said: “Although Gill and I remain committed to the business, and Lee will remain as a non-executive director, we realised that the next generation are many years away from acquiring the skills to operate such a large and complex operation, so there was no natural exit strategy.

“Following professional advice, it seemed an Employee Ownership Trust would provide a best of both worlds solution, safeguarding the continuity of the business and enabling the shareholders to extract some value, while maintaining an ongoing stake, as well as securing the future well-being of JJO's extended family.”

To find out more about the company, go to: https://jjoplc.com/.