Noel and Jennie

EMPEROR, one of the UK’s leading independently-owned creative consultancies, today announces that it is transitioning to employee ownership through the creation of an employee ownership trust (EOT), taking a step towards strengthening its status as a sustainable business. 

This industry-leading change reinforces the company’s desire to remain an agile and people-focused business that fosters transparency and innovation for clients. As an independent consultancy, the transition will ensure entrepreneurialism remains at the heart of the business by directly involving employees in decisions that drive business growth. This will also be a key driver of attracting and retaining the best talent. There will be no changes to the leadership or strategy of the business. 

The move to the EOT model, which was managed by Grant Thornton LLP, will see Emperor follow in the footsteps of around only 350 companies that have made the transition since legislation passed in 2014 to provide a route to employee ownership. 

Following the transition, Emperor employees with 12 months’ continuous service will now indirectly own a majority stake at 67% of the business, with the remaining 33% being held by the original three founders: Steve Kemp, Noel O’Connor and Kingsley James. The governance structure of the business will also see the management team joined by an Employee Board comprised of six members to represent the interests of employees from all parts of the business and offices. In the future, the Employee Board will have elected representatives to ensure the employee voice is heard and helps guide the future direction of the business.  

Founded in 1996, Emperor specialises in corporate reporting, brand, employee experience and sustainability across numerous channels. With over 200 employees and six offices in the UK and the Middle East, it maintains a rich, diverse and international client base across a wealth of sectors. Emperor’s continued independence and investment in staff will maintain this rich network of clients and will help to innovate beyond the business’s current offering.

Steve Kemp, CEO of Emperor said: “Our decision to move towards employee ownership is rooted in our deep appreciation for the contribution our employees have made over our 24-year history. Emperor has built a collaborative culture that promotes the best talent and innovation. This move will only strengthen it by emphasising our shared purpose and reinforcing the inclusive nature of our business. I believe this will put us in the best possible position to achieve our future aspirations as an independent agency.”

Deb Oxley, CEO of the Employee Ownership Association, said: “We congratulate Emperor on its transition to employee ownership. Giving employees a platform to truly engage with business growth is an exciting prospect for all involved. By widening ownership of the business, Emperor is securing the future of the business, including its ethos and values, and we are looking forward to following the business on this journey.”