Fitzgerald Contractors switches to employee ownership

Fitzgerald specialises in highway and public realm works

Managing director Nick Coley, who acquired the £30m turnover civil engineering contractor from Bouygues UK in 2013, opted to sell to employees, thus avoiding capital gains tax.

The employee ownership trust, representing all 120 employees equally, now owns 100% of the business.

Managing director Nick Coley and the existing board of directors will remain in their current roles.

Nick Coley said: ‘We consider that an employee ownership trust model is ideally suited to Fitzgerald’s philosophy and the thinking behind employee ownership has businesses exactly like ours in mind. This is a very exciting stage in the company’s history and safeguards Fitzgerald’s future for the benefit of all employees.

“The transition to an employee ownership trust acknowledges the hard work and efforts over many years and gives all employees an opportunity to share in our continuing success. The employee ownership route will allow us to provide greater opportunities for succession from within the internal management team over the coming years – an ethos that has been encouraged and served us well in recent times.

“With the current skills shortage, staff retention and the ability to attract new staff is critical to our ongoing success, and by creating an ownership culture we can more effectively incentivise our employees and continue to deliver sustainable growth.”

Fitzgerald was formed in 1948. In 1993 it was bought by the Thomas Vale Group and operated as an independent business within that group. In 2012 Thomas Vale was acquired by Bouygues. Bouygues then sold Fitzgerald, a £24m company at that time, to Nick Coley in 2013. Four years ago the company was turning over more than £30m and still considers itself a £30m business. However, in the year to March 2021 it turned over £17m (and made a pre-tax profit of £700,000). In the previous year, before the coronavirus lockdowns, it turned over £23.5m (with a £1m profit before tax).

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