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Kingsland moves towards employee ownership

Published:  20 July, 2021

Kingsland Drinks Group including Kingsland Drinks and newly established Ten Locks, has made a move to being partially employee owned.

The move follows current director shareholders, Andy Sagar, Karen Wilson, Michael Forde and Mark Dixon, having managed the business for 17 years.  

After a period of “careful consideration and planning”, the company said the owners had agreed that the time was now right to “restructure the ownership model” while recognising any changes in the stewardship of the business would “need support and take time to transition”.

After reviewing all the potential options, the shareholders had concluded the best outcome was to sell a majority of the shareholding into an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) structure, it added.

“The four shareholders have put a great deal of thought into the succession of Kingsland Drinks Group as we have a strong legacy of partnership and a family ethic,” said Sagar. 

“We have always put employees at the heart of our business and the move to EOT allows our colleagues to feel even more connected to the company, and take pride in building for the future, having a real stake in the success of the business.” 

Ian Hiscock, new chair of the Trust Board said: “I am thrilled to be joining the team at Kingsland Drinks Group as they embark on their employee ownership journey. Having spent my whole career working in and around the employee-owned (EO) businesses, I’m passionate about the benefits it can bring to a company and the people who make it a success: the employees." 

The shareholders will remain active in the business as executive members of the board and will retain an equity interest whilst moving the majority (51%) of the company into the EOT, giving employees Indirect Ownership status. 

The remaining 49% will continue to be held by the owners. There will be a board of trustees, consisting of one external independent trustee, two founder trustees and two employee trustees, charged with looking after the best interests of the co-owners of the company.

The business, including the board of directors and senior management team, will continue to function as normal, with the board of directors/leadership team being accountable to the board of trustees. 

The company has also agreed new funding facilities in conjunction with its existing provider, NatWest, and a new partner, Wells Fargo, which it said would provide the business with additional funding headroom and the capability to plan for future growth with its stakeholders.  

The EO business sector in the UK is growing, with over 100 businesses transitioning to this model in the last 12 months, according to Kingsland.

In March, Kingsland announced it was gearing up to boost its bag-in-box wine capabilities this year with a six-figure investment in additional production line machinery.

In the last six years alone, it has installed a carbonation line, reinstated its onsite winery, introduced new high-speed bottling lines, expanded its NPD capabilities with a new laboratory focused on future-thinking and insights-driven product development, and upgraded its capacity to bottle spirits and package new formats.