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Press Release

Fieldfisher supports Formation Architects move to employee trust ownership


United Kingdom

Graeme Nuttall OBE leads Fieldfisher team in supporting architects' practice in move to employee ownership

Formation Architects' move to employee ownership today officially launched by RIBA President Jane Duncan

European law firm Fieldfisher has supported Formation Architects, a London-based practice focused on residential, commercial offices, hotels and master planning, on its sale to Formation Trustee Limited, the trustee of an employee-ownership trust.

Formation Architects is a 65-strong practice based in a new purpose-designed studio in Kennington. The firm has work in almost all of the 32 London boroughs, and is repeatedly hired by clients due to its reputation for consistent, high quality work.

The Fieldfisher team was led by Graeme Nuttall OBE, partner, who as the government's independent adviser on employee ownership authored Sharing Success: The Nuttall Review of Employee Ownership (BIS, 2012). Nuttall was supported by Neil Palmer, partner and Jennifer Martin, senior associate in the firm's Employee Ownership and Mutuals team.

Formation Trustee Limited bought 100% of Formation Architects' shares from sole shareholder and former managing director Gordon Thomson and these are now held on behalf of all the employees of the business. The sale completed on 21 December 2015.

Formation Architect's move to employee ownership was today officially launched by RIBA President Jane Duncan.

Tim Quick, director of Formation Architects, said:

"The move to an employee-ownership trust is great news for everyone at the business, and for our clients, who can rest assured that everyone is committed to achieving success, and that means delivering great work for each and every client of the practice."

Introducing the Formation Architects Trust Launch event, Graeme Nuttall OBE, partner at Fieldfisher, said:

"The reasons for businesses to move to an employee-owned model are clear: improved business outcomes and greater employee engagement.  What the trust model particularly helps maintain is a company's independence and its ethos.  Formation Architects has moved from the traditional model of a single individual owning and running a practice to one where the practice is held by a trustee on behalf of, and run in the interests of, all employees. This model is set to become the main way architects' practices are owned in the UK."

Deb Oxley, CEO of the Employee Ownership Association, said:

“Employee ownership delivers a sustainable business model and, therefore, it is no surprise that Formation Architects has chosen this as part of its long-term plans for growth. The firm joins a growing number of professional service-based businesses that have adopted employee ownership as the sector grows at 10% per annum.”

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