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Middleton Hall is UK’s first employee-owned retirement village

April 16, 2019

Middleton Hall Retirement Village, near Darlington has become the first in the UK to be owned by its staff of 190 employees.

The transfer to become an Employee Ownership Trust, and join the likes of John Lewis and Waitrose, follows months of preparation since the move was first announced in September last year.

Aimed at preserving the ethos and values of the business and ensuring that Middleton Hall’s employees are truly respected as the company’s greatest asset and share fairly in its future success, the move has been very positively received both within the business and further afield.

Messages of support from other employee-owned businesses across the UK have been received including one from Aardman, the Oscar-winning animation studio behind Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and Morph, which has also recently transferred to Employee Ownership.

Simon Fowler, director of communications at John Lewis congratulated Middleton Hall in its transfer to employee ownership and said: “You’ve now joined a growing group of businesses across the entire UK who are realising the business and personal benefits of sharing ownership and influence whilst at the same time contributing to the growth of this £30bn part of the economy.”

When he announced the plan to transition to employee-ownership, Middleton Hall’s managing director Jeremy Walford said that, as the owner of a mature, cash-generating company he was faced with the challenge of how to best maintain the long term quality of the company after he had sold the company.

“I have received offers to sell the business but I am aware that in selling a company you never know who you are really selling to in the long term and I have seen good companies in our sector ending up barely a shadow of the business they historically had been when run by a caring owner, after being bought out,” he said.

“In a business world where capitalism and especially social care businesses often have a bad name, an Employee Ownership Trust offers a different model of how a truly caring company can operate, so my personal decision was easy.”

Middleton Hall personnel celebrate their ownership sttatus

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