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DB3 marks 140 years with new employee ownership trust

Award-winning Architecture, Engineering and Net Zero specialists, DB3 Group, have become the latest AJ100 practice to become majority employee owned.

As the group celebrates its 140th year, they are looking to the future and how best to take the company forward. Adopting an employee-owned model allows for succession within the business and since December 2022 the firm is majority owned by its new Employee Ownership Trust (EOT).

Group Chairman, Alistair Hamilton, has held the majority share in the company since its incorporation in 2008, and is excited to be handing over a major portion of ownership to the employee Trust. “I have felt for some years now that employee ownership would provide a positive future for the firm and am delighted to be able to pass on this fantastic legacy to many of those who have helped shape the company.”

Despite the industry challenges in recent years, DB3 has seen continued growth, which has allowed for the EOT restructure. DB3’s values are centred around their ESG objectives and put their team at the forefront of the day-to-day business, leading design and championing sustainability in the built environment. Allowing employees to have more of a voice and a seat at the table will ensure that the right decisions are made for future growth of the business and for positive impact on the world we live in.

Nathan McNamara, CEO of DB3 Group commented: “We are delighted to announce that we have set up an Employee-Owned Trust, which owns a majority stake in the business. Our team are what makes us so successful, and after two strong years of growth we are pleased to be able to make this change and recognise the contribution that every employee makes to our success. Aside from setting up the trust, the team and board remain the same. It will be business as usual with our focus around the ambition to grow, develop new services and support our clients for years to come.”

The existing Board and team at DB3 will remain in place with Alistair Hamilton as Group Chairman and Nathan McNamara in the new role of Group CEO, supported by the three Directors across the UK: Julius Steinert in London, Matthew Savory in Cardiff, and Tom Hill in Leeds.

An additional Trust Board has been created to allow all shareholders to have their say. Wendy Pawsey, Group Finance Manager and Hemal Patel, Head of Architecture in DB3’s Manchester studio have been elected by staff as their representatives on the Board. 

DB3 was advised by professionals from Azets during its move to an EOT. Corporate finance and tax advice was provided by Karen Sadler, Tax Senior Manager and Stephen Garbett, Corporate Finance Director. Karen Sadler, Tax Senior Manager at Azets, commented, “We are delighted to have supported DB3 with this project to restructure the business in a way that supports their growth plan. It is a business exceptionally well-suited for employee ownership, being an organisation with a strong culture, firmly established values, and an emphasis on the quality of its people. Our specialist team are seeing an increased amount of work on EOT projects as more and more businesses are attracted to this model of ownership given the wide range of benefits they can provide to the business, its owners and employees.”

There has been a significant rise in EOT’s across the UK with record growth in 2021 and the business model being used by over 1030 companies in the UK in 2022. It is now widely recognised as the fastest growing form of business ownership in the UK with Professional Services and Construction being the top two sectors opting for the model.

Headquartered in Leeds, DB3 Group is an Architects’ Journal Top 100 company with over 100 staff who work from studios across the UK including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Cardiff and Aberystwyth. DB3 Group consists of DB3 Architecture & Design, DB3 Building Services Engineering, DB3 Net Zero, DB3 Professional Services, Formation3D remote aerial services and online home improvement architects Home & Maker.

Find out more about DB3 Group here.

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