'A very empowering concept' - NSBRC staff celebrate Employee Ownership Day

By Claire Dukes - 1 July 2019

BusinessHome and Garden

It's been a landmark cause for celebration at the National Self Build Renovation Centre as staff mark five years of taking business into their own hands.

  • NSBRC centre manager Harvey Fremlin and MP Robert Buckland watch the NSBRC's new TV advert

    NSBRC centre manager Harvey Fremlin and MP Robert Buckland watch the NSBRC's new TV advert

Last Friday marked Employee Ownership Day which saw staff at Swindon's NSBRC (National Self Build Renovation Centre) celebrate their fifth year of being independent business owners.

Employee Ownership Day, sponsored by Gripple, highlights the impact of employee-owned businesses on the individual and the community which has enabled staff at the NSBRC to have their say on their company. The centre's managing director, Harvey Fremlin, said he believes employee-owned businesses are a viable option and has seen a positive impact on employee morale.

He said: "The big difference that it makes is that everyone arrives at work believing that they genuinely have a stake in the business and that they’re an owner of the business.

"So, I think people arrive with a different mentality – they question costs, they question spending, they want to give the best experience for our clients and our visitors - because they care about it because it’s their company. That is ultimately the big difference. Why shouldn’t every business be like that, really?"

The scheme also offers various models for businesses and has seen the self-build centre take on a hybrid scheme, offering employees a mixture of direct shares and an Employee Owner Trust. Mr Fremlin added: "Almost half the shares of the business are held in the trust and that looks after all of the team – plus future people who we haven’t met yet, who will one day be put into the business.

"There are swings and roundabouts like we will do extra hours, we will go the extra mile, but we’re quite happy to do that because it’s our company and we’ll reap the benefits in the long run.

"I think we are seeing an upward trend in employee ownership in the UK. Most people would have heard of John Lewis and Waitrose following this model for a long time, but there’s new brands - like Lush Cosmetics - that have recently become employee-owned who are realising that it’s quite beneficial to the business, and most importantly to the people that work in the companies. It’s a way of really looking after your team for not just the short run but for the long term as well."

To mark Employee Ownership Day Mr Fremlin invited MP Robert Buckland - who Mr Fremlin says has always shown "keen interest" on the company's progression - to the centre for cake and celebrations. At the event Mr Buckland said: "In Swindon we have a lot of our local economies based on self-employment contracting, but also this model as well and I’d like to see this concept grow. I think it’s a very empowering concept for workers to have that sense of control and co-ownership.

"The NSBRC has been here for five years now adopting the employee ownership model - we were just looking at the way in which employees have been brought in to have their degree of control over the organisation.

"I think that sense of responsibility, team work and control is so empowering - as a model, it really works well. And that’s why I am delighted and excited to be here."

On 1 September the NSBRC - which is currently owned by 81% of its team - will be taking another step forward with the launch of a brand-new commercial. Hitting the screens of Catch Up on Channel 4 the new TV campaign offers insight into the lifestyle that the Swindon-based centre has to offer. Mr Fremlin said: "For us that’s a really big investment, and a really important part of our marketing strategy for the next 12 months.

"We wanted it to capture the lifestyle and concept of doing a self-build rather than just listing off all the things you can see at the centre, because building your own home is quite a personal thing and it’s quite a journey.

"There’s a lot we can do to help people which will probably save them a lot of money and a lot of stress."

For further information about the NSBRC visit www.nsbrc.co.uk

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