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Engineering Success – Curtins moves to trust based Employee Ownership

Curtins has spent over 60 years advising and supporting clients on how to build resilient and sustainable structures. They have now applied those same principles to designing their own ownership structure.

Curtins is one of the UK’s leading civil and structural engineering consultancies with over 350 staff supporting clients from 14 offices across the UK and Ireland.

Established in Liverpool in 1960 in the back bedroom of their founder Bill Curtin, they are guided by a number of founding principles, including:

These principles were all reflected in their previous structure where ownership was held by or on behalf of the employees. Almost 25% of the company’s employees previously held shares in the business and for many years Curtins has been one of the largest employee-owned companies in the UK.

However, such a structure still relied upon and was subject to ownership being held by a minority of individuals. The company wanted a longer-term structure that still reflected its values, but could safeguard those values in perpetuity.

Moving to a trust-based structure was the answer, with all the employee shareholders transferring their shares to a new Employee Ownership Trust (EOT), that could hold the shares in trust in perpetuity.

The EOT is the controlling shareholder of the company, holding the board to account and ensuring that ownership is held for the benefit of all current and future employees.

Curtins also wanted to reinforce its founding principles in its structure. As part of this, the role of the new EOT includes acting as the guardian of the company’s Founding Principles.

In addition, the company has established a new employee forum composed of representatives from across the business. As well as giving the employees a voice at the heart of the company, this forum appoints two of the five trustee directors of the EOT.

Rob Melling, Curtins’ Chief Executive said: “As an Employee Trust owned business, I believe that the company and the individuals who work within it will flourish in a truly collaborative structure.”

Baxendale advised on and implemented the new ownership and governance structures for Curtins and the EOT. Rob Melling had this to add:

“Baxendale, with their wealth of experience guided us through our journey with practical advice at each step in the process of establishing our Employee Owned Trust.”

We wish Curtins all the best in this next phase of their journey. Working with a company with such a clear sense of purpose and values was immensely rewarding for us and gives them a powerful foundation for future success.

If you would like to find out more about what Employee Ownership could mean for you and your business, get in touch with Ewan Hall who led Curtins’ transition to Employee Trust Ownership.


Simon Everingham

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