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Granby: an employee owned business

A sustainable, competitive, innovative and profitable business for the future

In 2022, in its 7th decade, Granby became an employee owned business. In doing so, we’ve secured its position as a trusted 3PL fulfilment partner, as well as our vision of a business that adds measurable value on many levels, including commercial profitability and Social Value.

What is an employee owned business?

In employee owned businesses, everyone who works there has a vested interest in its success financially, as shareholders who receive profit related bonuses. While this on its own is positive, there’s much more to the culture and philosophy of an employee owned business than the money. And the benefits aren’t simply for the business either – they spread far and wide.

Employee owned businesses are fertile ground for entrepreneurship, innovation and the highest standards. A big part of this is because their very nature is one of sustainability – a long-lasting and stable business, which holds its community and its people close to its heart.

The employee owned business sector in the UK is growing because co-owned companies tend to be more successful, competitive, profitable and sustainable.
Employee Ownership Association

Some characteristics of employee owned businesses

  • Highly engaged employees who go the extra mile – more entrepreneurial, committed to the company and its success – and our clients and theirs.
  • Discerning hiring standards lead to better recruitment and retention of talent and experience.
  • A strong commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and involvement with the communities they operate in.
  • Innovative culture fostered by managers consulting staff and sharing information about the company, and giving staff responsibility.
  • Granby has joined the ranks of employee owned brands that are household names like Richer Sounds, John Lewis Partnership, Lush Cosmetics, Aardman Animations and PwC.
It’s very exciting - a strong senior management team, an engaged workforce, a sustainable business model that creates Social Value in and of itself, which also helps clients do the same.
Joanne Kimber, Managing Director. Granby

Granby as an EO business

Becoming employee owned makes complete sense because it will protect what we’ve created. It will also nurture our full potential, commercially, professionally and on a personal level too.

There are 3 types of employee ownership to meet the needs of a wide range of businesses. Granby chose indirect employee ownership. This means shares are held collectively on behalf of employees through an employee trust, which also governs the business to ensure the board and leadership are acting with the best interests of the employees.

Granby became employee owned under Managing Director Joanne Kimber. Jo has been with the business since 2000, when then-Managing Director Stephen Bentley acquired Granby from its parent company, the marketing services organisation Omnicom. She became a majority shareholder in 2013 and bought out the private equity investor in 2019. This bank loan was paid in full in 2021, 18 months ahead of schedule.

Exit planning and business sustainability

In 2022, Stephen retired from the board. Jo bought his shares and became the sole owner, and it was time to put her plans into action. She had been contemplating the long-term future of the company for some time, as well as her own career.

Initially, there had not seemed as if there was a suitable solution. A trade sale wouldn’t guarantee Granby’s future – there would be no protection for our legacy or our staff. Other solutions didn’t appeal either. Finally, an advisor suggested going down the employee owned route and Jo knew it was a fit.

I haven’t got here on my own - it was important to me that the entire team is rewarded. Employee ownership satisfies everyone’s needs.
Joanne Kimber, Managing Director. Granby

With more than two decades of experience in the business, Jo remains at the helm as Granby’s Managing Director, which is still an executive role. Part of becoming employee owned is ensuring there’s a strong senior management team, and she’s built one. Collectively, they are answerable to Granby’s employee trust.

In the last few years, under Jo’s leadership, other improvements to the structure and culture of the business were made through Investors in People, which helped her identify blocks and challenges and resolve them. An Employee Assistance Programme was also launched.

These are examples of what will be preserved and nurtured now that our business is employee owned. We’ll continue to invest in our staff through training and make Granby a great place to work, where people feel valued for their contribution, and have a say and a vote on what happens.

Social Value

A concept like Social Value, which aims to make public sector expenditure go further and do more, fits the way we work. Since 2020, we’ve had a working group exploring and documenting how we meet the theme requirements.

Net zero

As a 3PL partner, under Jo’s leadership we’ve evolved our services to lead the way in sustainable packaging, contract packing and promotional marketing, helping private business and the public sector get the best value and meet their Net Zero objectives.

Companies which are employee owned, or who have large and significant employee ownership stakes, now contribute £30bn to GDP.
Employee Ownership Association

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