Leading payments broker Accept Cards has become employee owned, with all the shares transferring to an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT).

The Elland-headquartered business, founded by CEO Richard Bradley in 2005, is an independent payments broker providing bespoke advice and payment solutions working alongside some of the biggest names in financial services including Handelsbanken, Metro Bank, Square, Barclaycard, Clover, Lloyds Cardnet and WorldPay.

In a transaction understood to be the first of its kind in the UK payments sector, the EOT will see the 14 employees take ownership of the firm. Staff members David Mills, Jo Kava and Sheenah Bond will become trustee directors.

Richard Bradley, CEO of Accept Cards, will remain in his position and expects to do so for at least six further years. He said: “This is the natural next step for our business and a really exciting time in the history of Accept Cards. The business has secured continuous year-on-year growth, which has only been possible because of the hard work and dedication of everybody working here.

“Transferring to an EOT gives our team much-deserved recognition and autonomy after being pivotal to our success to date. I’m proud that we have a long established, settled team who have welcomed the opportunity to become an EOT with open arms.”

The EOT means that employees will acquire the business, which is held in trust, and will see them have direct involvement in strategy and benefit from future growth. EOTs were launched in 2014. As of June 2023, the total number of employee-owned businesses in the UK stood at 1,418 - a 37% growth in a 12 month period.*

Accept Cards’ decision to become employee-owned comes seven years after the business launched a profit share scheme for its employees, enabling staff members to directly benefit from the success of the firm. Bradley added: “We’ve invested time and energy into making sure we have an amazing working culture at Accept Cards. It’s a brilliant feeling to pass on the stewardship to the team as a collective, as I know they embody our ethos of a business which prides itself on delivering the very best service while at the forefront of innovation for the payments sector.”

Advisors on the EOT transaction were Justin Smith of Kirk Newsholme and Ewan Hall of Baxendale Employee Ownership. “I’d like to thank Ewan Hall and Justin Smith for helping us every step of the way and making the process so straight-forward,” said Bradley.

Operating nationally, Accept Cards is a whole-of-market broker offering bespoke advice and solutions. It works with more than 45 partners and is trusted by banks, accountants, professional trade associations and business consultants to support customers with their payment requirements.

Accept Cards projects a three-fold increase in turnover in the next three years, and in that time expects to hire a further six people. Bradley, who established Accept Cards after more than 25 years in the banking sector, added: “We were the original disruptor in this sector, which moves very fast with the constant implementation of new technology. That’s not going to slow down any time soon, so there’s no better time to take the business forward together as an EOT.”

Accept Cards customers process more than £2bn in card transactions annually. The broker supports businesses of all sizes with a range of payment solutions including merchant services, card machines, online payments, e-commerce solutions, EPoS, open banking, charity donations and much more.