Gilbert Thompson (Leeds) Ltd, the fourth generation, family-owned wholesaler, has become an employee-owned business.

The £46m turnover business was established in 1946 by Gilbert Thompson. It is now managed by the 4th generation of Thompsons, brothers Daniel and Richard. They are transferring 80% of shares to an Employee-owned Trust (EOT) for the benefit of employees. They will remain joint Managing Directors.

Based at the Yorkshire Produce Centre in Leeds, the company operates in two main fields: fresh produce and flowers and plants.

Through its fresh produce businesses, GT Produce Ltd & C Scruton (Produce) Ltd, the company supplies a complete range of fresh produce from around the world. The company has been wholesaling fresh produce in Leeds and throughout Yorkshire for over 75 years and consistently delivers the highest quality fresh produce at competitive prices.

The floral side of the business, GT Flowers Ltd, supplies flowers for all occasions and operates one of the largest wholesale cash and carries in the UK. They stock over 5000 lines of floristry supplies, constantly adding new lines to keep up with current trends. As well as flowers, they offer a dedicated indoor and outdoor plant area, changing stock all the time with seasonal plants for all occasions.

Gilbert Thompson is proud of its family atmosphere and the benefit that this brings to both its staff and customers. Under the move, employees will benefit financially from the future success of the company.

Daniel and Richard said: "It's such a proud moment to be able to hand over Gilbert Thompson. Transferring ownership into our amazing team's hands ensures our culture and values live on, which was one of the most important factors to us in considering any next chapter for the company.

"We firmly believe this next chapter as an employee-owned business is just reward for the hard work and talent of our brilliant team. Becoming employee-owned is about maintaining and building on our unique family culture. Creating a great place to work is fundamental to our business principles, and we’re excited about the next stage of Gilbert Thompson’s journey."

Employee-ownership grows. Gilbert Thompson joins many well-known firms such as John Lewis, Richer Sounds, and 'Tiptree' preserve maker Wilkin & Sons in becoming employee-owned. The Employee Ownership Association (EOA) says more than 470 businesses have now adopted the model, with at least 50 more preparing to follow suit. Recent converts include Riverford, the organic vegetable box company and Aardman, the Bristol-based animation studio behind Wallace & Gromit.