Why Aardman got creative with its business structure when planning for the future

Aardman co-founder David Sproxton talks about why the Academy Award®-winning studio decided to transition to Employee Ownership

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One of the biggest challenges facing companies today is the need to engage, motivate and reward staff, while at the same time driving business performance. For many organisations, the employee ownership model is an increasingly attractive option.

Having spent over 40 years engaging audiences with highly creative stories and characters, it was time for Aardman’s founders to turn their creativity to their own backyard. They knew that they wanted to ensure continuity for their multi-award winning business and ultimately the decision was made to transfer shares to an Employee Ownership Trust.

Speaking about this transition, which happened in November last year, David Sproxton said: ‘This decision was taken to prepare for our future. This approach, the creation of an employee trust, is the best solution we have found for keeping Aardman doing what it does best, keeping the teams in place and providing continuity for our highly creative culture. And of course, those that create value in the company will continue to benefit directly from the value they create.’

‘The statistics show that employee owned companies are significantly more successful than conventionally owned companies. So we are very excited by the prospect of seeing Aardman roll far into the future under this arrangement and can rest easy that those four decades which have slipped by have paved the way for many more years of great creativity,’

As an iconic British creative brand, the transition was welcomed by the UK Employee Ownership Association, who supported David Sproxton, Peter Lord and the team throughout the process. The aim was to ensure that the company’s ethos and creative values were secured for the long-term and that those who supported its creative success could share in the value.

Based in Bristol, Aardman has grown into a multi-award winning global entertainment studio that encompasses film, television series, video games, attractions, commercial advertising, interactive content and rights and brand development. The studio has won four Academy Awards® and fourteen BAFTAs across both its short and feature films output dating back to 1989 with Creature Comforts. Aardman acquired a majority stake in New York based company Nathan Love in 2015 which focuses on animation work for the advertising industry.

Later this year it will release its latest feature film Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon.

Find out more about employee ownership

Employee ownership is a succession solution for the 21st century