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The EOA is 40

5th April 2019 by Tullis Russell

Employee Ownership

This year – 2019 – The Employee Ownership Association (EOA) are celebrating 40 years of better business together while having set sights on the future and a target of three million employee owners by 2030.

The EOA’s 40th anniversary will be a seminal year, laying down the foundations for a new economic era where the impact of business on individuals, their families and their communities starts to work in the interest of the many, not the few.

As well as looking back at the foundations of the EOA and celebrating successes, once again they will use the stories of the brilliantly successful and diverse businesses from membership that are prospering as a result of transitioning to employee ownership to campaign for more employee ownership in the UK economy with key influencers.

The history of the EOA and its founder Robert Oakeshott

The EOA was established in 1979 by English journalist, economist and social reformer Robert Oakeshott.
In 1979, Oakeshott founded Job Ownership Limited (JOL), a consultancy to advise on industrial co-ops and conversion to the employee-owned model. In its early life JOL was supported by the John Lewis Partnership and Scott Bader as well as those who Robert advised and supported to become employee owned including Scottish papermaker Tullis Russell and Baxi Heating, (now Baxendale) the domestic boiler manufacturer employing 1,200 people near Preston, which converted to an employee benefit trust.

Robert Oakeshott retired in 1999 at which point JOL became a membership organisation and subsequently became the Employee Ownership Association in 2006 – by 2015 it had 200 members and has since grown to over 350 members from across the UK including Tullis Russell.

40 EOA Facts

  • The EOA was founded in 1979
  • John Lewis Partnership’s first move to employee ownership pre-dated the EOA by 50 years
  • Trustee member Arup become employee owned in 1977
  • Tullis Russell and Baxi heaters (Baxendale) were two of the first to convert to employee ownership with support from JOL
  • The EOA Conference was launched in 2005
  • In 2006 the first public service mutual EOA member CSH Surrey was created under the leadership Jo Pritchard
  • A mutuals programme was established in 2011 and reignited in 2018
  • Actions from the Nuttall Review 2012, led by EOA member Graeme Nuttall OBE of Fieldfisher, have helped to grow the sector.
  • The first Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) was established in 2014 – there are now about 250
  • The most comprehensive research into employee ownership was published in the report the Ownership Dividend in 2018
Source: EOA Website

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