Esmwroth Yacht Harbour

Emsworth Yacht Harbour

Emsworth Yacht Harbour has sold a controlling stake to an Employee Ownership Trust and is believed to be the UK’s first employee-owned marina.

Emsworth Yacht Harbour (EYH) has been in operation since 1965, was acquired by the Wakelin family in the 1990s and Alison Wakelin has been Managing Director since 2006. Under the Wakelin family, Emsworth Yacht Harbour has grown significantly with substantial investment in the onsite facilities and now offers boat berthing, handling, and storage together with a wide range of ancillary services, provided by a range of successful tenant businesses. An Employee Ownership Trust now holds 80% of the company’s shares on behalf of its 12 employees, with members of the Wakelin family retaining the remaining 20%. As part of the move, Tom Marfleet will become Managing Director and Alison Wakelin will move to a non-executive director role.

Speaking about the news, Alison Wakelin commented:

As a family we wanted to find a succession plan that would allow EYH to stay as an independent marina for the foreseeable future. Becoming an employee-owned business presented a perfect opportunity to safeguard the future of our community and allow us to continue to deliver a fantastic experience to our many loyal customers. Our business has been built on the foundations of our incredible employee team and it feels amazing to recognise and reward them all by making this move into employee ownership and being the first marina to do so.

Tom Marfleet added:

All employees are excited by this move to employee ownership and I am looking forward to leading our team as we embark on our employee ownership journey.

Employee Ownership Trusts (EOTs) facilitate employees, now and in the future, having effective ownership of the company. Successive studies have shown that EOTs motivate employees to drive further growth, foster innovation and encourage entrepreneurial behaviours as they collectively
have a stake in the long-term success of the company and stand to benefit from profits. Due to these factors, EOTs are the fastest growing form of business ownership in the UK.

James de le Vingne, CEO of the EOA made the following comment:

According to the Employee Ownership Association, the total number of employee-owned businesses in the UK is now over 1,500. We’re increasingly seeing businesses from across the industrial divide becoming employee owned. Not every business can be the first of its kind to transition, but it’s remarkable seeing a business like Emsworth Yacht Harbour leading the way for marinas. I’m sure plenty of marinas across the country will sit up and take notice of this pioneering move by EYH.

EYH’s move to employee ownership has been facilitated by a team of advisers from Blake Morgan LLP and Menzies LLP with Andrew Harrison of Co-ownership Solutions helping with communications to the employees and other stakeholders. Membership of the Employee Ownership Association has provided the team with access to a wide range of resources and contacts with other member organisations.

This change of ownership is hugely significant for EYH and has taken time and effort to bring about. However from an operational standpoint the EOT model allows for a seamless transition. Now the focus shifts to engaging the whole team in achieving the benefits of employee ownership and ensuring a successful future for the business.


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