Business management

Finding success with an Employee Ownership Trust

A manufacturer of timber staircases, Two Twenty set up an Employee Ownership Trust in 2023. This is what it means to the business.

While EOTs have been around since 2014, Two Twenty, which designs and manufactures bespoke timber staircases for builders and merchants, is one of the first EOTs in the timber engineering industry. 

EOTs are formed when a business becomes partially, or in this case completely, owned by its employees. The employees do not hold shares, instead a controlling interest in the company is transferred to a trust held for the benefit of employees.

About the business

Founded in 2004, Two Twenty supplies bespoke timber staircases to small housebuilders and all of the UK’s top 10 builders’ merchants.

The move to switch to a trust will see the firm’s 40-plus staff benefit as it opens up opportunity for bonus payments as well as guaranteeing, protecting and creating jobs for the future. 

It also means staff have more say over company strategy and growth plans. To support this, Two Twenty are in the process of setting up an employee council to work alongside the board of trustees and have received an enthusiastic response.

As Founder of Two Twenty, Ali Wright, has moved to a new role to chair the employee ownership trust. He says: “With this deal we’re able to secure the long-term future of our business and our staff, but in reality, they are one and the same, Two Twenty is its people. We’re a family run business where the people aren’t related, and those people are what drive success and growth, so it only feels right that the future profit and performance sits with the employees.

“Throughout all my time as a business owner it was important to me to do the right thing on our terms and the staff here have always put their faith in us. With the employee ownership trust we’re demonstrating our belief back in them and the reaction has been incredibly positive.”

How NatWest and its network helped

Tom Rainsford, Senior Relationship Manager at NatWest, says: “We’re proud to be able to facilitate this deal for Two Twenty that sees employees rewarded for their contributions to the success of the firm. It’s been a delight for all of us to help with a transaction that’s one of the first of its kind for the sector and I can’t wait to see Two Twenty continue to grow and thrive.”

Broker Ben Lavin of Empire Finance advised on the deal, supported by NatWest broker relationship manager Andrew Styles. NatWest’s Ken Feast provided bespoke invoice finance advice.

Ben says: “I’m absolutely delighted to have worked with NatWest to support this outstanding business with the move to an EOT. Two Twenty is made up of a first-class team of people committed to excellence and this structure provides an exciting platform for the business to continue to flourish in the future.”

Browne Jacobson banking and finance partner Shaun McCabe, who led a team of lawyers advising NatWest on the transaction, says: “We are seeing an increasing trend in business owners moving into the employee ownership space because of the long-term business sustainability benefits it presents.

“Employee ownership schemes are enabling businesses to fully embrace their ESG commitments and operate as truly responsible businesses. This innovative approach will be key to the future of the UK business community and economy, so we are proud to have been involved in this deal that supports making a positive contribution to society and look forward to seeing the Two Twenty family grow with NatWest’s help.”


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