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The DB3 team at the company's summer social in June 2022. Credit: via DB3

DB3 takes employee ownership plunge

The architecture and engineering company is kicking off its 140th year in business by embracing the Employee Ownership Trust model.

As part of the EOT structure, the trust has the majority of shares in the business.

DB3 chairman Alistair Hamilton had been the previous majority shareholder. He said he was excited about the transition.

“I have felt for some years now that employee ownership would provide a positive future for the firm and am delighted to be able to pass on this fantastic legacy to many of those who have helped shape the company,” Hamilton said.

DB3 is based in Leeds and has a studio in Manchester. Hemal Patel, head of architecture in the Manchester office, will represent staff on DB3’s trust board, allowing employee voices to be heard. Group finance manager Wendy Pawsey was also elected to be an employee representative.

Retaining their positions on the board will be group chairman Alistair Hamilton and directors Julius Steinert, Matthew Savory, and Tom Hill. Nathan McNamara will also stay on the board, but in the role of group chief executive, having been promoted from managing director this year.

McNamara said: “Our team is what makes [DB3] so successful, and after two strong years of growth we are pleased to be able to make this change and recognise the contribution that every employee makes to our success.

“Aside from setting up the trust, the team and board remain the same. It will be business as usual with our focus around the ambition to grow, develop new services, and support our clients for years to come.”

Azets advised DB3 on the employee ownership transition. Azets tax senior manager Karen Sadler and corporate finance director Stephen Garbett provided corporate finance and tax advice.

Sadler described DB3 as a “business exceptionally well-suited for employee ownership”, because of its “strong culture, firmly established values, and an emphasis on the quality of its people”.

She also described an uptick in the popularity of the EOT model.

“Our specialist team are seeing an increased amount of work on EOT projects as more and more businesses are attracted to this model of ownership given the wide range of benefits they can provide to the business, its owners, and employees,” Sadler said.

Last year, Place North West reported on seven companies becoming employee-owned: engineering consultancies Futureserv and Crookes Walker, architecture firms Shedkm and Day Architectural, industrial agency B8 Real Estate, and landscape architect, urban design, and visualisation firm Planit-IE.

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