Azets, the UK's largest regional accountancy and business advisors to SMEs, has advised The Challenger Group, an engineering manufacturing business based in Yorkshire, on becoming employee owned.

The first of the businesses started in 1989 and the Group grew steadily over the years to now have four companies, on three sites, with more than 70 employees. The four companies are Challenger Hydraulics Ltd, Challenger Manufacturing Ltd trading as Comet Fluid Power, Challenger Handling Ltd and C.F.P. Hydraulic Systems Ltd. The manufacturing sites are in Chesterfield, Dewsbury, and Hull.

Sam Pepper and Richard Green, the owners are transferring 100% of their shares to the Warwick Street Holdings Ltd Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) for the benefit of all its employees. Under the move, all employees will benefit financially from the future success of the company and Sam and Richard will remain in the business as joint managing directors.

The Challenger name has been synonymous with high quality engineering solutions for more than 30 years. Manufacturing a range of products from hydraulic cylinders, balers, conveyors, hose and fittings and recycling / reconditioning equipment, with their core strength providing professionally designed, bespoke and well-engineered solutions.

The Group is split into four distinct manufacturing divisions;

  • Recycling / reconditioning machinery, shredders, conveyors, and other mechanical handling equipment
  • Hydraulic cylinders
  • Hydraulic power units, hydraulic components, and hydraulic systems
  • Hose and fittings

Sam Pepper and Richard Green, said: "It's such a proud moment to be able to hand over The Challenger Group. Selling the company to our employees through the creation of the EOT ensures the stability of the business for the long-term and supports our desire for further continued growth. This move recognises the value that our teams have delivered over the years, and it is a very exciting opportunity for each individual to take a pivotal role as the businesses progress. Creating a great place to work is fundamental to our business principles, and we’re very excited about the next stage of the journey."

The Challenger Group was advised by Tariq Javaid, corporate finance partner, Richard Weston, corporate finance manager, Steven Holmes, tax director and Karen Sadler, senior tax manager at Azets. Adam Cockcroft, Partner at Ramsdens provided legal advice.

Tariq Javaid, said: “The Challenger Group is a business exceptionally well-suited for employee ownership, being an organisation with a strong culture, firmly established values, and an emphasis on the quality of its people. It has been a privilege to work with Sam, Richard, and the team in assisting them with this transition and I am confident that the company has a bright future as an employee-owned business”.

This is the sixth EOT Azets in Yorkshire has advised on this year. They are an increasingly popular option for the transition of ownership, given the wide range of benefits they can provide to the business, its owners and employees.”

Employee-ownership grows:-

The Challenger Group 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 500 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.