Club Goes Employee Owned 

Industry Club offers team “meaningful stake” in present and future 

Marketing and media sector’s recruitment and training partner, The Industry Club, that transitioned to an employee-owned company. 100 per cent of the shareholding has been transferred to an Employee Ownership Trust, equitably benefitting all the staff now, and into the future. Melissa Smith, managing director and company founder, will remain in the business as part of the team until 2030.

“I wanted to give our loyal team the opportunity to have a more significant share in the business and its future,” comments Smith, who founded the business in 2011. “We have a very strong ethos that has evolved over a 13-year period and has absolutely contributed to the success of the company so far.

“Moving to employee ownership means our carefully curated culture can be preserved and protected, and ensures our combined experience is brought to the fore, for the benefit of our clients, and our industry. I’ve seen first-hand the transformational impact employee ownership has on performance and the economy. It’s not just an alternative business model; it’s a vehicle for unleashing employees’ potential and driving innovation.”

The team of 10 who will now co-own the business have all come from industry roles giving them a deeper understanding of each brief they receive. Many have been at The Industry Club for a significant period, with an average staff tenure of seven years – far higher than the recruitment industry norm.

The Industry Club is committed to impacting social and environmental change, successfully running DE&I initiative Marketing Debuts in 2021, introducing over 30 new people to advertising and marketing, the majority from BAME backgrounds. This year the company has signed up to Just One Tree – the non-profit initiative making an impact in the fight against climate change through global tree reforestation. The Industry Club has committed to planting trees for each new client, new brief it receives, and placements made.

The firm will also sponsor The Gerety Awards in 2024 – the global advertising awards with a diverse jury, comprised of women from various backgrounds and cultures, as an initiative that aligns closely with The Industry Club’s values. Meanwhile, the company’s training arm, The Industry School, is going from strength to strength, giving back to the industry and contributing to its future success through innovative training workshops across key disciplines.

Annie Wigley, finance and business operations consultant is the Employee Representative on the Trust Board. She adds: “My role is to make sure everyone’s voice gets heard by having both team and one to one conversations with everyone. Getting back to basics and reminding everyone of our company values has been crucial to give everyone a solid framework for pitching their ideas and suggestions to shape our business and its future.

“We’ve always been open with sharing how things operate, but the real game-changer is giving everyone a platform to really influence the long-term vision. More than ever all suggestions and opinions are valued and there’s definitely a new energy and excitement in the air that we’re all in this together and accountable.”

Smith concluded: “In the UK, diverse business structures like employee-owned firms are not only enhancing the vibrancy of our economy but are key in building resilience and pushing boundaries. Because they’re run in an open way, employee-owned businesses tend to have a strong commitment to corporate social responsibility and involvement with the communities they operate in.

“Transferring ownership is a vote of confidence in a team that has contributed so much to our success over the years.”

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