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Press Release

Fieldfisher advises on Tibbalds employee buy-out



United Kingdom

A team from Fieldfisher lead by partner Graeme Nuttall OBE advised Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design Limited ("Tibbalds") on introducing majority employee ownership.

A team from Fieldfisher led by partner Graeme Nuttall OBE advised Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design Limited ("Tibbalds") on introducing majority employee ownership. Champions of good urban design, Tibbalds is an independent consultancy whose multi-disciplinary team works across planning, urban design and architecture to help create award-winning places and spaces throughout the UK.

Fieldfisher worked with Tibbalds in 2013 to introduce a minority employee trust shareholding. On 2 June 2015, Tibbalds Employee Trustee Limited ("Tibbalds Trustee"), as trustee of the Tibbalds Employee Ownership Trust ("Tibbalds EOT") bought shares from each of the four founders, Hilary Satchwell, Jane Dann, Jennifer Ross and Sue Rowlands, to increase the Tibbalds EOT ownership stake to 60%.  Tibbalds and the Tibbalds Trustee have adopted a new employee ownership constitution to give all employees a stake and voice in the business.

Other members of the Fieldfisher team included partner Neil Palmer and senior associate, Jennifer Martin.

Graeme Nuttall OBE partner Fieldfisher and chair of Tibbalds Trustee praised Tibbalds as "a great example of how to introduce employee ownership to retain a company's independence and ethos, as well as plan for the long term succession of ownership and management" adding "The move to EO was a natural progression for Tibbalds.  The founders and employees worked enthusiastically towards achieving the move to majority employee ownership. As with so many successful creative companies, employee trust ownership fits perfectly with the Tibbalds culture: it harnesses individual and team work towards achieving people friendly places."

Jane Dann, one of Tibbalds’ four Founding Directors said:

“We value our independence, our individuality, and our role as specialists, working with clients in a way that’s focussed squarely on what they need to make good places happen. So it’s important to have a long-term plan in place and to attract and retain the right people, particularly at a time when many practices in our sector are consolidating or being absorbed into bigger names. We also want to make sure that everyone in the team benefits directly from our success.”

Darren Smith, Studio and Marketing Manager and one of Tibbalds’ four, new, elected Trustee Directors, said:

“We already have a shared vision and ethos, but putting in place the Employee Ownership Trust means that they are now underpinned by a more tangible, financial stake for everyone. Routes to a financial share in the practice are open to everyone, there is greater transparency about how things are run and we are more attractive to new team members. Fieldfisher helped us navigate the entire process very easily, providing sound advice and helping ensure that the whole team was involved in the decision making as it moved forward.” 

Katja Stille, Associate Director, who has been with Tibbalds for 12 years, said:

“The decision to move to an EOT means that everyone has a greater stake in the business, and we’re really excited about the opportunity to become more involved. As employees, we’re even more focussed on the same goals and how we all, individually, can help shape the practice’s future and success.”

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