Octopus Group, the London headquartered financial services and energy firm, has joined the Employee Ownership Association (EOA) as a trustee member, as it seeks to raise awareness of employee ownership and use its experience to help other businesses become employee owned.
Interest in employee ownership continues to grow across the UK, with the number of employee owned businesses rising by 18% in 2018/19. Well-known EOA trustee members include Lush, the cosmetics company, Arup Group, the multinational engineering firm and John Lewis & Partners, the department store group.
Octopus was founded in 2000 by Simon Rogerson and Chris Hulatt after the pair left Mercury Asset Management to set up their own fund management business. Octopus now has more than 1000 permanent staff and manages more than £8.6 billion on behalf of retail and institutional investors. It invests in areas where it can make a positive impact, specialising in renewable energy, real estate, smaller companies and venture capital.
The business is privately and majority employee owned, with staff members encouraged to become shareholders in the company. Octopus facilitates share ownership by running an internal marketplace that allows current employees to buy shares, and existing shareholders to sell them. Unlike some share ownership schemes, Octopus does not require its employees to sell their shares if they leave the business.
Annual reports detailing the company performance and share price are provided to all employees and shareholders. During a certain window each year, everyone then has the option to buy or sell shares at that price.
Octopus also runs a share incentive plan, which allows employees to save a regular amount each month through their gross salary, making it more tax efficient. At the end of the year the total amount saved is used to buy shares in Octopus.
Simon Rogerson, CEO and co-founder of Octopus Group, said:
“When we founded Octopus our whole business model was based on caring more about our customers than our competitors did. As we started to grow, we needed staff who shared that mindset almost instinctively, and who cared about our business, our customers, and our future. This becomes a lot easier, and more likely, if they have a meaningful stake in the business too.
“I passionately believe that employee ownership is the future of business and that’s why we decided become members of the Employee Ownership Association. I’m looking forward to getting more involved and I would love it if we could use our experience to help other businesses do the same.”
Deb Oxley OBE, Chief Executive of the Employee Ownership Association, said:
“We are delighted to welcome Octopus Group as Trustee Members of the EOA. Their commitment to giving their employees a meaningful stake in the business and championing employee ownership in the UK is a very welcome addition to our 420+ network of businesses.
“We look forward to working closely with them to share their insight and experience to support others on their journey to employee ownership.”
For journalists in their professional capacity only. Issued by Octopus Group, June 2020.