Berry Smith advises one of Wales’ market leaders in apprenticeship delivery on the transition to employee ownership.

The staff of Talk Training Ltd, a market leader in the delivery of apprenticeships in Wales, have now become the owners of the entire share capital of the Company.

Talk Training Ltd was incorporated in 1995 and was acquired by the former shareholders in 2007 as part of a management buyout.  Jonathan Hughes (Managing Director), Alison Anthony (Operation Director) and Steve Evans (Financial Director) acquired the shares in Talk Training and have gone on to successfully run the company, taking it from strength to strength.

Talk Training provides apprenticeship training to most of the University Health Boards in Wales, as well as other public and private sector companies. Their mission is to become the provider of choice for learners and customers, by delivering learning that exceeds their expectations.

Talk Training has a loyal and dedicated staff base, many of whom have been with the company for a number of years. It was with this in mind that the owners, Jon, Alison and Steve, have chosen to place their employees at the heart of their succession planning and opted for a transition to an Employee Owned business.

Alison explained the reason why Talk Training has transitioned to becoming employee-owned: “We have been looking at succession planning for about four years and went so far as to have some serious discussions with a company about a trade sale. But some of the discussions we had didn’t feel right to us. We have such loyal and dedicated staff here, we realised that a new company would potentially move Talk Training away from our base at Nantgarw and drastically change things for our team, which we didn’t want to see happen.

“Having acquired Talk Training ourselves nearly 20 years ago, we knew the advantages of getting wider staff ownership and so looked into that option and, thanks to the help and guidance of Cwmpas, this is the avenue I am so pleased we have gone down”

Jon Hughes, Talk Training’s Managing Director, added: “The formation of the EOT is a major step change in the development of this company, and one of the most exciting since its incorporation over twenty-six years ago.

“It will allow our current and future staff, to feel even more connected to the company as they will have a real stake in the success of the business. They can all take pride in knowing that they are shareholders that are building for the future.”

Jon, Alison and Steve have now given control of their business directly to their employees, through an Employee Ownership Trust. Establishing a trust which owns the shares for the benefit of the employees demonstrates Talk Training’s commitment to its staff and its desire to continue to operate as a successful local, Welsh business.

Jon, Alison and Steve will remain in their roles as directors of Talk Training, offering support and guidance to the new Trust Directors – Tanya Parmee, Sales manager and Lisa Harris, Operations manager.

Berry Smith worked closely with Talk Training, Cwmpas, Gambit Corporate Finance and Azsets in both the establishment of the Employee Ownership Trust and the subsequent sale of shares. Abbie Baker, Associate Solicitor, led the team and advised upon the legal aspects of the transition of ownership to the EOT.

Abbie concluded “We are delighted to have worked with the former shareholders of Talk Training to help implement their vision of transferring the ownership of the business to its employees. Berry Smith has worked with Talk Training for over 25 years and throughout that period, the employees of Talk Training have been at the heart of its business. The new EOT ownership structure will help ensure that the Company is well placed for the next stage of its development.”

Employee ownership is one of the fastest growing business succession solutions in the UK, with almost 1300 businesses transitioning to employee ownership by December 2022. As a result, Berry Smith has considerable experience in advising on EOT transactions.

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