European law firm Fieldfisher advised new company Arrowfield Veterinary Practice Limited ("Arrowfield") on establishing an employee trust and purchasing an un-incorporated veterinary business, the Arrowfield Veterinary Group. This Welsh borders vets practice is now 100% owned by an employee ownership trust and had its official launch on 1 March 2014 (St. David's Day).
Partner Graeme Nuttall, head of the Employee and Mutual Ownership team at Fieldfisher, and author of the Government report "Sharing Success: The Nuttall Review of Employee Ownership", led on the matter, assisted by associates Jennifer Martin and Natalia Konovalova and legal executive Mariana Burns.
The business purchase was completed on 28 October 2013, following a two month transition period.
Paul Buckingham, Director and Veterinary Surgeonof Arrowfield said:
"Against a backdrop of small, independent veterinary businesses being swallowed up by large corporates, we wanted to create something different for Arrowfield. We wanted to create a business that the employees have the autonomy to run, away from the demands of third party shareholders and a sustainable structure where future succession does not depend on incoming colleagues being able to raise large amounts of capital as in traditional partnerships.
We settled on the employee ownership trust model because it means our vets, nurses, office and support teams own the business together and have a say in how it's run, as well as a stake in its long-term success; we all have an interest in delivering the very best service to our community. ".
Initial help and advice was given to us by the Employee Ownership Association who put us in contact with Fieldfisher. Throughout our transition Fieldfisher were a truly professional team; experts in their field and comprehensive, timely and clear in all their communications with us. Despite their geographical distance from us they delivered a very personal service by email, phone, conference calls and Skype."
Fieldfisher partner Graeme Nuttall added:
"The employee ownership model works well across all sectors and sizes of business, and we are pleased to see this new champion of employee ownership promoting the idea for vets. As the UK Government gets ready to introduce tax exemptions for employee ownership trusts, it is great to see the staff choosing this model. This employee ownership trust has very much hit the ground running by acquiring an existing business and ensuring an orderly transition."
John Dennis, retiring founder of Arrowfield Veterinary Group commented:
"I am pleased to see the Arrowfield business, which started in the 1950s, continuing in the capable hands of its staff. This was a perfect succession solution for me. I am delighted to see the business flourishing under the guidance of Paul Buckingham and Wendy Phillips and the rest of the team."
Kam Sangha, Senior Healthcare Relationship Manager at RBS said:
"RBS are delighted to have been able to support Arrowfield Veterinary Practice Limited with this exciting new business concept. We look forward to continuing to work with Paul and Wendy to assist with any future banking services."
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