Horizon Platforms moves to employee ownership

By Murray Pollok02 February 2021

UK access rental business Horizon Platforms announced it will become an employee owned business, with ownership moving to an employee ownership trust (EOT).

Horizon will be the first in the UK powered access industry - and one of the first worldwide - to be employee owned. Joint majority shareholders, CEO and founder Ben Hirst and strategic account director Rory Duggan, will remain in the business in the coming years. Kevin Appleton, Horizon’s Executive Chairman, is also a shareholder in the business.

Ben Hirst, Founder and CEO of Horizon Platforms.

Under an employee ownership trust, employees do not own shares in a business, but get indirect ownership through the trust and the potential for annual bonuses relating to the performance of the business.

The scheme allows ownership to be transferred without employees having to source funds to buy the business. The shareholders are paid the value of the business over a phased timescale.

Ben Hirst, CEO, comments; “This is the proudest moment of my career. Transferring ownership into the hands of our employees offers this organisation the opportunity to live on, and truly become what I have always strived to achieve, a business built for our grandchildren.

“Becoming employee owned is about maintaining and building on the unique Horizon culture. The business and its employees have a real family ethos and so personally, I want to be a part of what I expect to be the most exciting phase of Horizon’s journey yet.”

Hirst said that he and Lucy Normanton, Horizons’s director of people and internal communications, spoke to many businesses who had transitioned to an EOT; “There was an overwhelming sense that it had been the best choice for all the businesses we spoke to and therefore cemented our own decision to move forward in this way.”

Rory Duggan, Strategic Account Director, added; “I truly believe that we have built a very special company and one that is only at the beginning of its journey. We believe that now is precisely the time to transition ownership to our team as we approach our next phase of growth, but in true Horizon style, we are daring to be different.”

Horizon said it had ambitious plans for growth by working closely with its partner suppliers across the UK.  The business has invested in digital technology allowing customers to manage their hires via the website, and work more flexibly.

The company was formed in 2008 and has a fleet of 850 aerial platforms managed from a single “super depot” in West Yorkshire. It has also built a business based on partnerships with independent rental companies around the country, with customers renting machines either from Horizon or through Horizon’s partners.

Horizon worked with global audit, tax and consulting firm RSM to facilitate the process of the majority shareholding transferring to the EOT.

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