Cable manufacturer ties the employee-ownership knot

ICS2 team

A CABLE manufacturing firm with an extensive portfolio of bespoke products for clients around the world has handed control and ownership of the business to its employees.

Developing subsea, 5G Telecoms, Access Control, automotive and industrial sectors, Dundee-based ICS2 Cables, achieved its second-best year despite managing supply shortages affected by the pandemic.

Following the ongoing success of the business, owners Paul Munro, Ian Johnston and Jeff Smith, felt adopting employee-ownership was in the best interests of the company’s staff and customer base.

ICS2 Cables received advice from Thorntons solicitors, EQ Accountants and employee-ownership specialist, Ownership Associates, with 100% of the business being transferred to an employee ownership trust [EOT] and its 18 members of staff.

Managing Director, Paul Munro, said: “Over the years we have honed our craft and skill to form relationships with our customers, and this is down to our highly trained and trusted team of employees.

“Having set up the business some time ago, both myself and Ian are looking to step down in our positions over time, with Jeff focusing on his other business. ICS2 previously received interest from a similar company in England, but it had suggested it would be looking to move operations down south, which we were not prepared to do for the sake of our team and the local area.

“From there we looked at alternative options, and we quickly realised an EOT was the way forward. The idea was put to us by our accountants EQ Accountancy and working with Carole Leslie of Ownership Associates alongside Thorntons’ legal team we were able to formulate the best option for all involved with ICS2 Cables.

“I want to get to the stage where I come into the office and I have nothing to do, retiring in the knowledge that the business is in safe hands; continuing to succeed and evolve under a competent management team.”

Carole Leslie of Ownership Associates, said: “ICS2 is a powerhouse of innovation and productivity. By opting for a sale to an EOT, Paul and Ian have secured the future of the business in Dundee. Indeed, when we announced the plans to the employees they were hugely relieved that there would be continuity and stability for themselves and the company.

“Dundee has lost too many manufacturing businesses over the years. It’s great to know that ICS2 is committed to the area for the long-term.”

Established in 2002, ICS2 Cables was originally based in Glenrothes, Fife, before moving to larger premises in Dundee, after initially looking to purchase additional machinery from an existing manufacturing facility.

Before its fifth anniversary the company was achieving more than £1m in turnover. Since then, it has continued to grow with its products being used globally.

Through its work with specialist suppliers in their chosen sectors of operation its products are used in many of the world’s most recognised global brands with ongoing developments into aquaculture, 5G Telecoms and Access Control which continue to dominate as buoyant growth sectors in the years ahead.

Staff were delighted when they learned of the plan to transfer the shareholding to an EOT. The existing management team will look to build on the historic success of the ICS2 Cables business and establish a new platform for the continued expansion of the business in the future.

ICS2 Trustee Laura Munro is responsible for the Company’s Quality Systems as part of the management team. Laura said: “Adopting employee-ownership will best protect the interests and commitment of the company’s team while also allowing ICS2 Cables to achieve new levels of performance in our chosen growth sectors across the business.

“In order to best support the growth of the company, we look to recognise key areas for development and investment which can consolidate on the previous strengths and successes of ICS2.

“The recent introduction of our new IT infrastructure investment supported by an SE Digital Boost grant, is seen as one of many progressive steps we have taken to modernise our internal systems, whilst driving forward the fundamental objectives of the business.  

“Setting up an EOT has been a valuable learning experience for everyone, it is like pressing the ‘fast forward’ button, and we remain focussed on the future opportunities that lay ahead for this innovative and growing business.”

Dougie Rae of EQ Accountants, said: “We were delighted to help the company transition to Employee Ownership and secure its future by placing it in the hands of the employees.

“This is another great example demonstrating that Employee Ownership can be a solution for businesses with a relatively small number of employees as well as those with a significant workforce and I would encourage anyone who is looking at succession planning to seriously consider employee ownership as one of the options for their company. The benefits to the seller and the employees can be enormous.”

Through EQ Accountants and employee-ownership specialist, Ownership Associates, the Dundee firm’s transition to an EOT took just six months.

The Employee Ownership Trust was introduced in the 2014 Finance Act to encourage business owners to consider a sale to employees as a feasible succession solution.

Ownership Associates works exclusively within the employee-owned sector, supporting companies on their move to employee ownership and working with established employee-owned businesses enabling them to maximise the ownership advantage.

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