The group, which runs 41 day nurseries in the South of England, has paid £850,000 worth of dividends to staff following last year’s move to employee ownership.
Over 1,700 employee owners at the company received a tax-free partnership dividend payment of up to £680 each.
Staff voted to become an employee-owned business in May 2017. Prior to this, employees saved to buy shares in the company, which offered ‘buy one get two free’ incentives as part of the ‘Sharing our Success’ initiative.
In 2014 all share-holders voted on the ‘Sharing our Success’ initiative to sell their shares back to the company to establish a Trust to benefit everybody. The share price had risen from 20 pence in 2000 to £1.96 in 2016 and £2.30 when they were sold back to the company last year.
The newly-formed Trust Board - which has independent and employee-elected directors from the company’s 42 member Partnership Council – now holds all shares for the benefit of all employees.
In a letter to all employee owners, Childbase Partnership founder and chairman Mike Thompson described the dividend payment as a turning point in the company’s history.
‘This partnership dividend payment is the first step in our new employee owned focus at the company’ he said.
‘It recognises the contribution all colleagues make to the success of our company and the role each of us has to play in this partnership going forward.’
Subject to National Insurance contributions but tax free under new HMRC rules for employee owned companies, the payment terms for the partnership dividend take into account ongoing investment in training programmes, nursery facilities and equipment.
The payments were agreed by all company boards, and the 42-member Partnership council, made up of elected employee representatives.
Pro-rata payments were also made to employees who worked less than full-time, started midway through the financial year or were absent due to sickness or maternity leave. Every employee owner also received a commemorative coin (pictured above).
Ann Wiseman, a former pre-school teacher and now a team leader at Lavenders Day Nursery in Bedford, only joined the company last September.
‘I was totally surprised and delighted to get a percentage of the payout. It is wonderful as I come from a sector where there are no bonuses rewarding contributions,’ she said.
Childbase Partnership is the fourth largest nursery group in the country, and came a close second in Nursery World’s Nursery Chains quality league table in 2017.