Demolition firm switches to employee ownership

Aaron Morby 3 years ago
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Shares in demolition and enabling works contractor Clifford Devlin are now owned by its staff following the decision to switch to an employee ownership model.

All of the shares previously owned by the second generation of the family-owned business, established by Peter Clifford and Foncie Devlin, have now transferred at full market value to an Employee Ownership Trust.

The firm follows in the steps of rival London demolition contractor McGee and north of England builder Triton Construction in taking advantage of a tax-free sale of ownership to staff.

As part of the restructure the existing management board have been appointed as full board members, creating directorships for Liam Hennessy (Operations), Martin Doble (Building Works), Derek Aslett (Commercial) and Ian O’Connor (HSQE).

(l-r) New directorships for Liam Hennessy, Martin Doble, Derek Aslett and Ian O’Connor

Employee Ownership Trust


An EOT is a special form of employee benefit trust introduced by the Government in September 2014 in an attempt to encourage more shareholders to set up a corporate structure similar to the John Lewis model.

The aim is to facilitate wider employee-ownership, albeit via an indirect holding company.

Shareholders selling their business to their employees are also crucially not liable for capital gains tax.

EOT controlled companies are also able to pay income tax-free bonuses of up to £3,600 per year to staff.

Data suggests that employee-owned businesses drive corporate performance with higher productivity, profitability and greater levels of innovations.

Managing director Tim Clifford said he believed the move to employee ownership after 59 years would help to secure the long-term future of the business.

“The EOT route will enable us to transition the ownership structure without the potential disruption a sale to new owners might involve, thereby maintaining continuity of culture and business process which is what our father would have wanted,” said Clifford.

“It is also an opportunity for us to recognise and reward the contribution our staff make to the development and continued success of the company.”

Clifford added: “Promoting our management board to senior status will help reduce some of the workload for day-to-day activities on the existing directors and will improve overall governance of the business.

“It will further enable us to gradually transition our responsibilities over the course of time.”

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