I am delighted to report that AAR has become employee-owned, with a newly created Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) taking the majority shareholding in the company. This development is part of a move to further strengthen our performance, entrepreneurialism and innovation and pass on the company to the next generation of business leadership.

An EOT is an indirect form of employee ownership in which a trust holds a controlling stake – at least 51% – in a company on behalf of all of its employees, and providing an incentive for owners to sell a controlling stake in their business. Research has shown that employee-owned companies are more entrepreneurial, with staff more committed to the company and its success. They tend to deliver superior business performance and be more innovative, too – achieving this through consultation, information and responsibility sharing business-wide.

Our company was the world’s first pitch consultancy service, founded by Lyndy Payne in 1975. Lyndy sold the business to Martin Jones, Paul Phillips and me in 1998. We have sold a majority portion of our shares alongside a minority shareholder and an EOT has been formed with a majority holding of shares in the company on behalf of AAR’s staff. I have become a Director and Chair of the Trust, providing continuity. Three members of our team have exercised their employee share options to become minor shareholders, Martin, Paul and I each retain a minority stake in AAR, and a growth share scheme has also been created.

Establishing an EOT allows AAR to retain its independence and, therefore, its impartiality, integrity, company values and consistency in the way it operates as a business. It makes it easy for us, as the existing owners, to bring in a new generation of AAR leadership – heralded by our new Chief Executive Officer, Victoria Fox – to incentivise and, over time, transition the business.

What we have done is very much in keeping with the way in which AAR has always managed itself and it has allowed Paul, Martin and I to ensure succession and legacy of the business and a brand that we care so much about.