Hi-Fi founder gives staff a richer future

The founder of Richer Sounds is celebrating his 60th birthday by turning the company into an Employee Ownership Trust

By Jenny Wrightson, founder and managing director, Just Recruitment Group Ltd

The founder and managing director of Richer Sounds has announced that he is giving 60 per cent of the company to his employees.

Julian Richer, who founded the business in 1978 at the age of 19, said that the time was right to establish an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) and pass control to its workforce.

    ...Mr Richer announced that he would share a large portion of the £9.2m windfall he stands to receive from the transfer.  

In a further act of goodwill, Mr Richer announced that he would share a large portion of the £9.2m windfall he stands to receive from the transfer.

Each member of the Richer Sounds team will receive £1,000 for every year spent with the company. For the average employee, that equates to a gift of £8,000, but The Guardian reports that some staff will receive as much as £20,000.

Talking about his reasons for the move, Mr Richer said that turning 60 was a major motivator. His father died at that age, and the entrepreneur wants to establish a new ownership structure for his company in good time.

As well as their altruistic character, Employee Ownership Trusts bring a number of benefits to businesses. According to the Employee Ownership Association (EOA), around 350 companies in the UK have adopted the structure, with 50 more expected to convert soon.

As a result, they benefit from more engaged staff, improved productivity and better employee retention.

This is certainly what we’ve experienced at Just Recruitment since becoming an EOT in December 2017. Our staff now have a genuine stake in the business. Its success is their success, and they feel as if they can shape the future.

For us, the move to employee ownership felt entirely natural. I founded the company in 1983 and have thoroughly enjoyed leading it through nearly four decades of growth.

But it’s always been the case that Just Recruitment’s people are instrumental to its success. Even before we became an EOT, they committed to achieving our goals and establishing a thriving business throughout East Anglia.

For me, then, employee ownership was as much about rewarding loyalty as inspiring employees for the future. It looks like Julian Richer feels the same: he’s always prided himself on having a happy team, where people feel valued and well cared for. Transferring ownership of his business to his staff is a logical next step.

    If you have a business that depends on the commitment and dedication of your people, it pays to show them that they are valued.  

With 53 stores and annual sales of nearly £200m, Richer Sounds is already a thriving concern. It has successfully bucked the trend towards online retail and puts great stock on the power of a face-to-face encounter with customers.

That is why the company has always looked after its staff, as we have always tried to do at Just Recruitment. If you have a business that depends on the commitment and dedication of your people, it pays to show them that they are valued. As well as being the right thing to do, it makes good business sense.

Employee ownership enshrines the right sort of relationship between an employer and their staff. It shows that a company’s success is a shared endeavour, by giving its people a direct stake. They can influence its destiny and benefit from its achievements.

I greatly look forward to seeing how Richer Sounds develops in the years ahead, as a high-profile model of employee ownership. If Mr Richer’s experience of handing over control to his team is anything like mine, he’ll be in for an inspiring, rejuvenating and empowering time.

Published: 22 May 2019

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

If you liked this article, you may enjoy: Acknowledging that a child has grown up is never easy

You may also want to read: What place does ethics have in business?

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